With hundreds, if not thousands, of companies building a personal gallery for the office, it seems businesses are becoming a modern day Medici to the art world. Banks, call centres and law firms are furnished with paintings nowadays, yet corporate art has become so much more than just a conversation starter at the water cooler.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of companies building a personal gallery for the office, it seems businesses are becoming a modern day Medici to the art world. Banks, call centres and law firms are furnished with paintings nowadays, yet corporate art has become so much more than just a conversation starter at the water cooler. There are still many companies that fear art collections as a “risky investment”, but there are many more that have become aware of what corporate art can
do, and just how much of an asset it is. Take the Microsoft Art Collection for example.

Beginning in 1987, the collection includes almost 5,000 works in over 150 of their
throughout the world. The artworks in this collection vary from a panel of discarded computer keys to massive multicoloured murals, yet all have one common trait: these works are all required to be “contemporary art by living artists”. Michael Klein, the former curator of the collection, explains that “Microsoft is a young company, and that the median age of the employees is youthful. So the focus of the collection is on collecting contemporary art”.

Standard Chartered’s London offices follow a similar method in its gallery – boasting paintings from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, this collection serves as a visual mirror to the bank’s financial influence in these areas.

This philosophy illustrates the importance of corporate art nowadays. Many businesspeople believe others do, in fact, judge a book by its cover, and their company needs the best cover it can get. In this regard, contemporary art has become an extension of a business – the image and ideals a corporation intends to express to its clients are now translated onto their works of art. Art collections have evolved from the last several years to become not only a symbol of a corporation, but a new form of advertising to be utilised.

But besides constructing a company face, employees have shown that corporate art also functions as a motivator for workers and a source of creativity in office hours. In a recent survey by IDCAC (International Directory of Corporate Art Collections) of over 800 employees working for 32 companies, results showed that the majority of responses believed art in the workplace reduced stress, increased both creativity and productivity; enhanced morale, and broadened employee appreciation of diversity in culture and opinions. Harry Quadracci, President and Founder of Quad
Graphics, also believes in the value of art in the working environment, “Art has transformed our workplaces into works of art”, for he argues that a comfortable, creatively stimulating environment produces better results. With a $4 billion USD revenue, Quad Graphics may be onto something when they stress the importance of an artistic office.

Corporate art also fulfils the desire to build links between companies and contacts in one very simple method – commissions. It may sound pointless, but you might be surprised just how effective this can be in gaining contacts, or improving your cultural reputation in the community.

So there are benefits to becoming a corporate patron of the arts: it motivates your workers; it promotes your business, it builds relations and it can even be affordable. However, while anyone can get a collection of paintings in the office and say it’s corporate art, it is a much wiser investment, as demonstrated here, to make an art out of your collection.”

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Ruth Sadler was born in Somerset in 1959. She studied art at the University of Roehampton, and graduated from there with BA Hons degree in Art for Public Space. She enjoys a growing reputation and demand for her work which can be found in galleries and ... (Read More)

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