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"We are interested in developing new ideas, in participating in the present age"
Friedhelm Hütte on Deutsche Bank’s current art involvement

Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head Deutsche Bank Art
Photo: Katrin Denkewitz

Whether in the conception of a collection or regarding Deutsche Guggenheim’s exhibition program – this year Deutsche Bank’s international art activities are focusing on the promotion of young talent and the medium of drawing. An interview with Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head Deutsche Bank Art, on the highlights of this year’s program.

What are the focal points of Deutsche Bank’s art involvement in 2008?

In terms of the collection, we are going to focus more on the medium of drawing, on the initial idea, the draft, the concept, the handwritten aspect. On the element that reflects the creative, artistic process in a direct, immediate way – a medium that has accompanied us for thousands of years. That is our priority in the orientation of the collection. Another main focus is the intensive fostering of young talent, by purchasing works for the collection or by supporting individual projects. At the same time, we’re interested in presenting artists who are not very well known to the general public, say, in Germany yet – as, for example, in the case of Richard Artschwager in his day. A third aim is to further internationalize the collection – with a focus on art from Latin America and Asia. By enabling more works to be loaned and more international exhibitions to be mounted from the collection – for example, Drawing a Tension, a show that opens this summer in Lisbon – we intend to make the Deutsche Bank Collection more accessible to the public more than has been the case so far.

What is special about Drawing a Tension?

We are happy to be able to realize this project together with the Gulbenkian Foundation. For the project, we obtained the independent curator Jürgen Bock, who curated the Portuguese pavilion last year at the Venice Biennial. And of course this project is also concerned with the topic of international exchange. Just as in More than Meets the Eye we presented German photo art from the Deutsche Bank Collection in Latin America in 2006/2007, we are now showing a larger selection of our works in Portugal for the first time.

And this year, works by the Villa Romana prizewinners are on exhibit at the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum for the first time.

The Villa Romana Prize constitutes Deutsche Bank’s longest existing cultural involvement. We have supported this award for more than 80 years. Now we are coupling this involvement with the Deutsche Guggenheim. Freisteller, the title of the show featuring this year’s prizewinners, will later be on view in Italy. The prize also promotes young talent.

And the same is true of the art prizes that we initiated in Poland and with the new Kandinsky Prize now also in Russia. In both countries we collaborate with important partners, ranging from the ministry of culture to renowned museums. In this way, we can offer promising talents a serious forum with an impact on the public. Such competitions are ideal for discovering and promoting new artists.

Subsequently Collier Schorr, one of the "hottest" young artists in the U.S., will curate an exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim.

That will be a very exciting project. Freeway Balconies will also focus on young artistic positions. For the show, Collier Schorr will choose artists from the current U.S. art scene that are particularly outstanding in her eyes. At the Whitney Biennial in New York, we are also promoting the realization of works by young artists. In all of these activities, our aim is to promote creativity and develop new ideas, to participate in the present age (in keeping with the term "contemporary"), to absorb things, reinterpret them.

And you also put a contemporary emphasis on the Deutsche Bank Lounge for TEFAF.

Apart from Old Masters and antiquities, modern and contemporary art increasingly are playing a more important role here. Last year in Maastricht, artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Paul McCarthy were represented. After we showed a video work by Cai Guo Qiang in 2007, in this year’s VIP Lounge the 60-part work DeLuxe by the U.S. artist Ellen Gallagher was on view – surely one of our most spectacular new purchases in recent years.

And what about art in the bank?

We are intensifying the accessibility of the collection at the workplace with new impartation offers. The new motto is "art works." In May, the vernissage of the presentation of the new collection in the new management board building IBC-C will mark the beginning of this program. When you view the works on show there, you immediately recognize the new orientation of the collection. Many more international artists are represented – Japan and the U.S. are a focal point – and instead of prints we primarily show original drawings. A whole floor is reserved exclusively for photographic works. We will invite artists to the opening and offer guided tours. And we are again taking part in the Kunst privat! initiative, where companies in Hesse invite people to view their art collections.

Recently, there have been a few newspaper articles on the planned presentation of part of the Deutsche Bank Collection at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

We are continuing our decades-long patronage relationship with the Städel Museum and the city of Frankfurt by making important masterpieces available to the museum to expand its contemporary collection. These works include exemplary paintings by artists such as Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Georg Baselitz, as well as drawings and prints. As soon the negotiations have been completed, we will inform the public about the scope and content of the cooperation.

The year at the Deutsche Guggenheim will end with Anish Kapoor.

He will execute a commissioned work for us. Anish Kapoor continues the series of international artists who enable us to experience the museum in ever new ways – like Gerhard Richter with his minimalist, mirroring panels, or recently Phoebe Washburn with her absurd plant factory. Or Cai Guo-Qiang, whose installation for Berlin, Head on, is currently included in an impressive exhibition of his work at the Guggenheim in New York. Kapoor, whom we also present in our VIP Lounge at the Art Cologne, will transform the entire architecture of the museum with a gigantic steel sculpture.

What are your wishes for the art year 2008?

We would like to attract more people to contemporary art and to arouse their interest in artistic positions, which perhaps are not so easy to understand initially. Above all, we want encounters with art to leave a lasting impression – on our employees, on our customers, and on visitors to the bank and the museums.

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