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"Here art comes directly to the viewer"

Renzo A. Berger is responsible for the Deutsche Bank Collection in Zurich. For him working with art is of central importance which he manages in addition to his main duties as Managing Director (Private Wealth Management). Just before Christmas he led Andre Rogger through the five floors of the stately building from the 1870s at the Zurich train station and commented on his work and his personal love for art.

Renzo A. Berger and Dr. Ariane Grigotait
©Gaechter + Clahsen

Andre Rogger: Mr. Berger, isn't it right that you are responsible for the art collection of the Deutsche Bank in Zurich. What are your duties?

Renzo Berger: As a member of the Art Commission of the Deutsche Bank I acquire and manage the art for our collection in Zurich. I place them in the offices and conference rooms of the Swiss branch and lend works for outside exhibitions when requests come in.

Rogger: How large are the holdings in Zurich in comparison to the entire collection of the Deutsche Bank? What are your major emphases?

Berger: In comparison to the entire collection of the Deutsche Bank encompassing around 50,000 works, the holdings in Switzerland are of course relatively small. In our space in Zurich we have collected a few hundred artworks. Ninety percent of the selection is concentrated around the works of Swiss artists, and the rest come from the surrounding German-speaking areas.

Drawings and water-colors, collages as well as mixed media works, but also graphics and photography, document the multiplicity of media in artistic work on paper, a genre which is an emphasis in our collection. In addition there are also individual sculptures and even installations in our collection. By the way, video is not yet represented as a media, but perhaps this will change in the near future.

We don't have a fixed itinerary for the collection in our house. The artworks will be primarily exhibited in the rooms for clients and our principle is to only collect the work of a single artist in each room. However many individual pieces are exhibited in the offices of our co-workers.

Rogger: What relations do you cultivate with the Swiss art scene? And what are your criteria for selecting new pieces?

Berger: In close cooperation with our colleague Dr. Ariane Grigoteit in Frankfurt, we are in close contact with galleries, museum and curators in Zurich. Individual concepts and collections for all other outside locations are created through the cooperation with the Art Department of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, together thez creat a whole. Through its funded purchase strategy, the Deutsche Bank has become one of the largest collectors of modern art worldwide.

The open concept of collecting contemporary art does not place the same demands of a museum on our works, our focus is on artistic statement and its ability to engage in a direct dialogue with the viewer, either through clients or colleagues.

Rogger: Do you have personal preferences within the collection of the Deutsche Bank in Zurich? Or a favorite piece?

Berger: I am personally very interested in photography. The minimal austerity of black and white photos of city landscapes in North America by Balthasar Burkhard, for example, I find intriguing. I have also started my own small collection, because regardless of how strong desert images are at first glance, they somehow unleash a hidden emotional potential in the viewer. The Italian Arte Povera and the British-American Land Art are very close to my heart, since – like photography – they take their point of departure form nature which they place in a new light. I also place great importance on acquiring a piece by Roman Signer for the Deutsche Bank. I find the great humor with which Signer stages his artistic interventions to be most compelling.

Balthasar Burkhard: Berg, 1994
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Balthasar Burkhard

Rogger: Do you see a local emphasis as part of your strategy for the financial center in Zurich?

Berger: No. We're collecting Swiss artists in support of a generalized strategy of a worldwide anchoring of the Deutsch Bank art collection.

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