What is a corporate art collection?
The VBCN's corporate art collections are made up of works purchased by organisations such as banks, companies, and governmental and semi-governmental bodies. The kind of art each organisation collects depends on its identity, when it started buying work, and how it manages its collection. Most collections are compiled by curators with backgrounds in art history.
Organisations collect art for a range of reasons. Often, they seek to bring their employees into contact with art in order to enrich their lives. Corporate art collections can help staff to view their work in a different way, promote creativity, and introduce a human element into the company culture. Another argument for collecting art is that it has a positive effect on an organisation's image. People make direct connections between an organisation's art collection and its activities, products and/or character. In addition, the wish to provide patronage - i.e., to actively support artists and the art world - has long been an important motivating factor. Today, such support comprises part of what is known as corporate social responsibility, or more specifically corporate cultural responsibility.
Autonomy is a characteristic of art, and in the corporate context, as everywhere, art refuses to be limited to a single unequivocal message. By definition, the corporate purchase of a work of art creates an interesting dialogue between that work and the people around it. Art enables viewers to think beyond well-trodden paths and standard frameworks. Thus, art in corporate collections is always a site of intersection between intrinsic interest in the artwork and the instrumental deployment of art for other organisational goals. This is what makes corporate collections different from private and museum collections.
Read here for interview with Sabrina Kamstra, former chair of the VBCN