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Mind the Gap!
New purchases for the Deutsche Bank Collection in London

For several years now, the London collection at Deutsche Bank has not only been focusing on contemporary British art; it’s also had its eye on the European scene. This can also be seen in its latest new acquisitions. Yet at the same time, tomorrow’s art stars are busy incubating in the studios of London’s East End – and curators want to be the first to discover them. Alistair Hicks and Mary Findlay on curators’ fears and temptations in the metropolis on the Thames.

Christopher Bucklow, "Guest, 1.15 pm 1 Aug '96", 1996, Deutsche Bank Collection, courtesy Anthony Wilkinson Gallery

"Mind the Gap!" Even the computerised voice on the London tube feeds the London curator’s paranoia. Boroughs such as Hackney and Bow boast the highest concentration of artists in the world, so there is more than enough art and artists to go around. But, like fashion editors, London curators are all fighting for a position at the catwalk; they’re terrified they will miss the one key work by the one artist all the other curators are talking about. Even Deutsche Bank curators, with their policy of buying art from across the board to try and find a range of vision, are not immune to the pressures of a bubbling contemporary art market.

Ori Gersht, The Mountain, 2005,
Deutsche Bank Collection, courtesy Andrew Mummery Gallery

The London part of the Deutsche Bank Collection is relatively small, 3,000 works out of some 50,000 worldwide, but as with the evolution of any collection, gaps have emerged and sometimes grow to nightmarish proportions in our minds. Over the last few years the London Art Committee has bought works to help fill gaps in the collections of Pop Art, the School of London, the Helsinki School, and the Young British Artists.

Ola Kolehmainen, Search for Mastery III, 2005,
Deutsche Bank Collection, Courtesy Galerie Anhava

The London offices only had British and German art on their walls until a couple of years ago, when the Art Committee decided that as a truly international company with a cosmopolitan staff, we in London should be surrounded by international art. This has given us the opportunity to begin redressing the geographical balance of the London collection. Though the bank has offices in over 70 countries, and hence has been buying around the world, much has been bought in the main financial centres where our main offices are located. In London, we are now concentrating on European art: during the last 18 months or so, we have bought work by artists from Albania, Cyprus, Finland, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Gerard Byrne, A country, a tree, evening: Cruagh, on the road
between Kilakee and Tibradden, Dublin Mountains, 2006,
Deutsche Bank Collection, Courtesy Green On Red Gallery

One of the reasons for buying works on paper for the Deutsche Bank Collection was that artists work through their ideas in their sketches, photographs, drawings, and prints, and so it is not surprising that the new group of artists introduced into the collection come laden with ideas. Some of the most stimulating photographic pieces are related to videos or films. British Israeli Ori Gersht produced a film and series of photographs of the woods in which his in-laws hid during the war. The photographs are often bleached out as harsh, but faded memories in contrast to the film, which is punctuated by the periodic crash of axed trees.

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