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Deutsche Bank

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Deutsche Bank

  1. 1. ILLUSTRATIONbypublinclaritempotiniumvidcesblah INSIDE THE WORLD’S MOST ARTISTIC BANK DEUTSCHE BANK’S LONDON HQ RIVALS THE WORLD’S BEST ART MUSEUMS. WE TAKE A TOUR OF ITS WORKS FROM BACON TO HIRST. BY ALISTAIR MACQUEEN PHOTOGRAPHS: DAVID HARRISON HALL OF FAME: Deutsche Bank’s foyer in London features Turner winner Keith Tyson’s work ‘12 Harmonics’, 2011 squaremile.com squaremile.com064 065 FEATURES
  2. 2. ILLUSTRATIONbypublinclaritempotiniumvidcesblah A RT HAS ALWAYS been a form of currency; just think of the paintings patronised and bought by Florentine banking family the House of Medici in the early 15th century. Of course, the connections between commerce and culture have diversified quite a bit since Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici first commissioned Brunelleschi to reconstruct the Basilica of San Lorenzo back in 1419. Fast forward the best part of six centuries and take a look inside Deutsche Bank’s London HQ to see what I mean. Winchester House is primarily an international hub of commerce and industry – but it’s decorated like a modern art gallery. Works by artists the world over are hung or installed – and represent a rich palette of global themes and influences. It’s this juxtaposition of traditional trade – the everday work of the bank – alongside creativity that reveals a lot about the German institution’s approach to the visual arts. As a business that takes its acquisitions, and relationships with artists it chooses to work with, very seriously, it sees the collection and sponsorship of the arts as part of its very DNA, just as much as money is. The bank’s relationship with the Frieze Art Fair is well documented, and with 60,000 art works in 928 buildings across the globe, 1,900 of these can be found in Winchester House. The bank has been collecting and championing art since the 1970s, and prides itself on being one of the first to break from the trend of buying art purely for investment purposes. Rather than looking for returns on the art it shows and sponsors, the bank claims it doesn’t adhere to any particular style. Instead, it insists that the artists and what their work has to say about the world comes first. Deutsche is also reluctant to put a corporate stamp on any art it owns, wary perhaps of creating limitations for artists and their pieces. If anything, though, it’s clear the passion for contemporary art and artists runs high on the bank’s list of priorities. The collection in Winchester House is expansive and features renowned artists including Damien Hirst, Tony Cragg and Anish Kapoor. Reflecting current financial trends, it also chooses to back new and emerging artists from the East and South Americas, and exhibits their work in halls and boardrooms throughout the building. When the bank moved into Winchester House in 1998, Deutsche and its curators wanted an office that made a bold statement to both employees and visitors alike. As entrances go, Winchester House has one that rivals many international banks (and even London’s other cultural establishments) with Anish Kapoor’s reflective installation Turning the World Upside Down III (1996) positioned in front of Damien Hirst’s Biotin-Maleimide (1995). It’s important to note, though, that these aren’t installed solely to increase the aesthetic of the building, or to increase the bank’s kudos in any way. Rather, Deutsche is at pains to point out that it really believes in this art. Kapoor’s installation as a focal point is gloriously disconcerting – when you look into it, the work creates the appearance of an inverted world and forces you to question what you’re seeing. As the company’s senior curator Alistair Hicks says about the decision to support and show art throughout Winchester House: “Excitement is gained in engaging with the individual artist. Our policy is to show a cross section of artists, from Gavin Turk to Cao Fei, by way of Marcel Dzama and Wangechi Mutu. “Artworks need to have an audience to live, and artists keep us fresh and engage with what is happening now. Contemporary art is about change, so we’re benefitting from their responses to the world. We choose works that engage staff and are ideas-led.” Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson’s piece 12 Harmonics (2011) [pictured on previous spread] certainly fits Hicks’ description – an immersive work of 12, 3.5 metre-high canvases presented in a photo-realistic fashion is as bold as it is arresting. The panels have a “numerical essence” the viewer is challenged to detect. Deutsche is proud to claim that auction houses are never approached when the bank wants to buy an artist’s work – instead, Deutsche contacts artists directly. Hicks and the bank’s team of curators proactively scout art galleries and exhibitions, and a panel of departmental executives meets three-to-four times a year to decide which works should be hung in the building. There are guided tours of the artworks at Winchester House, but if you’re imagining queues that put the Natural History Museum to shame, think again. There is limited capacity – not to foster a feeling of exclusivity, but simply because it’s a working office. And yet it is an office like no other. How many workplaces can claim to have Francis Bacon’s Study For Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1989) located unassumingly at the end of a corridor? Here, art is braided into the working environment. For example, what would otherwise be a featureless boardroom is graced by works from Canadian artist Marcel Dzama. The particular pieces hanging in the room are primarily on paper, a form which Deutsche is especially keen to invest in, because of its accessibility to staff. Just as the Medici family built its grand palaces to house an ever-increasing art collection, it could be said Deutsche Bank has created the new Uffizi right here in London. ■ For more information, see db.com How many banks have an original Francis Bacon located unassumingly at the end of a corridor? THE SPHERE AND NOW: (Clockwise from this image) Visitors to the London HQ are met by Anish Kapoor’s work ‘Turning the World Upside Down III’ (1996) and Damien Hirst’s ‘Biotin- Maleimide’ (1995); the reception also shows Tony Cragg, ‘Secretions’ (1998) and Keith Tyson, ‘12 Harmonics’ (2011); Marcel Dzama, ‘Such a Strange Rebellion’, ‘I Remember How You Made Me Feel’ and ‘They Grin Like a Dog, in the Streets’ (2012). squaremile.com squaremile.com066 067 FEATURES

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