Art at work: Neo Rauch, Stereo, 2001,
Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London
But what use is
all this to individual staff members in the bank?
A great deal.
A concern that is uninformed about the problems of and changes taking
place in society can no longer work at a profit and develop social
visions. In the Deutsche Bank, art helps develop well-informed opinions.
In this sense it is a massive asset in developing corporate strategy. Art
is of course an image factor for the Deutsche Bank, but it is much more.
It would make no sense to create fresh impetus without following up with
deeds. Through our cultural commitment we want not only to reflect on
social developments but also to assume responsibility in this sphere—to
support artistic talent, initiate discussion, provide active help. And in
this respect the bank's art activities are indissolubly linked to other
aspects of its cultural and social commitments. Thus for instance the bank
has commitments not only towards art and music but also towards society in
general—whereby all these aspects are brought together under
Corporate Cultural Affairs.
Art at work: Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Gespenster), 1963,
Photo: Lee Mawdsley, London
Do staff members respond to the art in the bank?
Indeed they do, and in a range of ways. From the very beginning the bank's
decision to present contemporary art in the workplace has been both a
motivation and a challenge. Art is not a fig-leaf in this respect but
represents an emotional and spiritual dividend, an opportunity of
examining the questions of contemporary society from other perspectives.
What is fascinating is that the bank's collection is one of its best
investments: it was bought at very reasonable prices and has risen
considerably in value. Many people now see that something of great worth
has been created here, and when I receive reactions from colleagues such
as those contained in the emails published in this catalogue, then I know
that the struggle has been worth it.
Cristiano Mascaro, Mec Rio de Janeiro, 1987
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Cristiano Mascaro
With all due respect to cultural commitment and art's media effectiveness, is
art not a fairly elitist affair after all?
The one does not
preclude the other. While art may indeed take up radical positions or
criticise the negative effects of globalisation, many artists belong to
networks of art galleries that market such positions at a profit. This
contradictory situation shows that polarised thinking in terms of
oppositions like "radical" and "conservative", "underground" and
"establishment, is no longer relevant. As concerns increasingly take over
responsibility for art sponsorship in the face of empty public coffers,
they must also keep an open mind on the controversial and uncomfortable
issues that art articulates. It would be marvellous if our anniversary
exhibition could show its visitors that art is not just something for the