this issue contains
>> Welcome to "25"
>> Hall of Fame englisch
>> Interview with Ariane Grigoteit
>> Visionary Spaces: Zaha Hadid

>> archive


Rainer Fetting, Girl und Vogel, 1982
Deutsche Bank Collection, Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London

Incidentally, none of the 25 godparents has chosen works by Germany's Junge Wilde (Young Savages) — although it is precisely these works that have so decisively contributed to the acceptance of modern art among colleagues in the bank. For instance Rainer Fetting's Girl und Vogel (Girl and Bird, 1982) was the title picture of our first catalogue of the collection in the Frankfurt twin towers, and also the motif on the invitations to the very first exhibition of works from the Deutsche Bank Collection. From classical Modernism the Curator’s Choice shows Kirchner's Bahnhof Königstein (Königstein Station, 1917) and a 1930 drawing by Hoerle, whose Blick in den Spiegel (Glance in the Mirror) is representative of the whole section. The section includes a collage by Charlotte Posenenske and a Josef Albers square—a rare abstract work amongst those selected by the godparents from the Deutsche Bank Collection. Photographs by the Swiss artist Beat Streuli and by Gillian Wearing from England, as well as a recent drawing by Shannon Bool, a young Canadian artist who now lives in Frankfurt, symbolise the trend towards more mobility among the cultures, a trend that is also playing an increasingly more important role in the world of banking.
The latest acquisitions for the collection, works by Julie Mehretu, Tam Ochiai and William Kentridge, indicate the future direction of the bank's art program. Whither will this direction lead? Let us hope that it is towards a multifaceted, tolerant and dynamic vision of society. For what makes the collection so fascinating is that so many of its works pose questions relating to collective values and individual self-determination — without, however, offering simple answers.

Gillian Wearing,
Self portrait as my Father Brian Wearing, 2003
Deutsche Bank Collection,
©Gillian Wearing, Courtsy Maureen Paley, London

The fact that the collection is facing the future with confidence is underlined by the futuristic design of Zaha Hadid's exhibition architecture. Her buildings are themselves of course works of art. Is there a danger of the works' being dominated by the architecture?

This tension between art and exhibition architecture is most certainly a part of the concept behind the exhibition. Zaha Hadid has impressed us by the many projects that she has carried out in Germany. She is uncompromising in a positive way. Her design impressed us particularly because of the way it reflects conditions in the bank, where art has to react to the existing architecture and the everyday world of work. Zaha Hadid has very subtly and masterfully transposed this situation into the exhibition. Her design is based on an apparently very simple idea: she has mentally filled the Deutsche Guggenheim exhibition hall with a fluid material and so to speak made a gigantic cast of it. Out of this block she has cut long ellipses, thus creating walkways that serve as both corridors and exhibition spaces. The excavated ellipses reappear as solid forms in the atrium, where they reach dynamically up to the ceiling. She has thus separated the space of the hall into positive and negative forms, creating an original dialogue between the worlds of art and banking.

Exhibition view: on the left a work by Wolfgang Tillmans, Photos: Mathias Schormanns

Can one see the collection as an imaginary museum, construct, or mental space?

Yes, one could understand Zaha Hadid's design in this way on an abstract level. At the same time it possesses great material presence. The architecture is both muscular and subtle, organic and technoid. The tunnel-like passageways that run through her construction are like the nerve system or arteries of a gigantic organism through which visitors circulate. The exhibition architecture serves as background, protective cover and presentation framework for the collection.

Art at work: Alessandro Pessoli, Untitled, 1999,
Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London

For a time the visitor dives into this shell full of art and becomes part of this living network. I very much like this image as a way of understanding the exhibition, for in the Deutsche Bank art indeed functions like a motor or a pumping heart.

A heart in heartless times? Against a background of record unemployment figures and the Hartz IV reforms, many a bank employee and also member of the public might ask if it makes sense to present the collection's works in such a elaborate setting. Is there any truth in such criticism?

At first sight such criticism is of course understandable, but in the final analysis it is beside the point. Many visitors will of course ask why we are investing in such an exhibition in times like these. But once debates of this nature start, it is nevertheless astounding how rapidly calls for radical cuts in expenditures for culture are voiced—as if giving up our commitment to culture would make people's jobs any the safer. But precisely the opposite is the case. The network formed by the collection is no more limited to the four walls of the bank than is its commitment to art. Our acquisitions of art by young artists supports a whole art market that exists on both a global and a local level. This is to the benefit of not only artists, curators, art galleries, art fairs and the media but also a whole range of trades and professions that are indirectly connected to art and culture. Our commitment to art also has a positive effect on job security within the bank, for it helps to foster good customer relations and to facilitate new business connections. Many customers share our interest in art and are very happy to do business with a cosmopolitan concern that values creative thought. Spontaneous conversations and encounters lead to long-term business relations, for a commitment to art is seen as a guarantee of sustainability.

Art at work:
Egon Schiele, Liegendes Mädchen mit roter Bluse, 1908,
Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London

A good example of this was the MoMA in Berlin exhibition, whose chief sponsor was the Deutsche Bank and that was a massive economic success for the whole city of Berlin. The exhibition was initially a financial risk, for nobody knew for sure if visitors would indeed come to it in sufficiently large numbers to cover the costs. But our conviction that it is worth taking risks for art — and also worth facing up to such criticism — has proved to be correct. Giving up art and culture leads to both spiritual and economic impoverishment.

Art at work: Georg Baselitz, Graben, 1970,
Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London

How does the theme of the "25" anniversary exhibition reflect this conviction?

An important goal of our anniversary exhibition is to demonstrate the social and economic relationships within which art is produced, communicated and collected — to show how art and culture is networked with all aspects of life. We cannot talk about our own hopes and cares without considering people from other cultures who have a different way of looking at the world. The goal of the collection was from the very beginning to make such connections clear, and thus over the years the art in the bank has been the occasion of often bitter debate. If today we yearn for solid values by which to live, for security and sustainability, we have to be open to new ideas, to get rid of our prejudices and fear of new contacts. This is a paradoxical situation, for initially one is afraid to strike out in new directions. Especially in a bank, art acts like a catalyst: it make abstract relationships clear without at the same time offering simple solutions to problems. Art is a very reliable seismograph for signalling the present state of society.

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