What was good for the Medicis is good for banks

Global companies with an eye on the bigger picture invest in contemporary creations.  Just beyond the turnstiles of Deutsche Bank’s London reception sits a large object resembling several huge dollops of creamy Plasticine. As the viewer comes close, it turns out to be a sculpture made entirely of dice.

“Secretions” (1998) by British artist Tony Cragg, a trained scientist, addresses questions about the structure of the universe. But some might find the frisson of gambling it evokes entirely appropriate for the lobby of a global investment bank.   The piece, which sits alongside a polished metal sphere by Anish Kapoor and one of Damien Hirst’s “spot” paintings, is part of a collection of about 60,000 works owned by Deutsche Bank.

Companies promote the social responsibility of their art activities but corporate collecting also remains what it has always been: good for business. As Kai Kuklinski, chief executive of insurer Axa Art Group, wrote in his foreword to Global Corporate Collections: “Broadly speaking, the nature of the patronage afforded to art by both private and mercantile wealth hasn’t fundamentally changed since the height of the Medici age.”

 

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