NEW YORK—Having been principal sponsor of London’s annual Frieze Art Fair for six years, Deutsche Bank has now signed on to be the lead sponsor of ART HK for the next five years. The annual ART HK features modern and contemporary art; next year’s fair, to be held May 27–30 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will be the tenth edition. More than 110 galleries from 24 countries participated in this year’s fair.
Deutsche Bank is widely involved in the visual arts, and since 1997 has had a partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, with which it jointly established the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. In addition to sponsoring Frieze, the bank has also organized exhibitions in its VIP lounge at that fair for the past four years, including, most recently, a show of more than 50 photographs from the 1950s and ’60s by German photographer Thomas Struth.
The five-year sponsorship agreement with ART HK is part of an effort to expand the bank’s presence in the Far East, according to Michael West, Deutsche Bank’s head of communications for the Asia-Pacific region. “Asia is a priority region for further growth,” West told ARTnewsletter. “We have built out a collection of art in most Asian countries over 30 years, and also have contemporary European works on paper in most countries. The ART HK sponsorship is part of the bank’s brand development program and also part of its global art program.”
The bank’s interest in art extends beyond financial sponsorship to acquiring artwork for its own collection, most of which is displayed in company offices around the world. According to Friedhelm Hütte, global head of Deutsche Bank Art, the wide-ranging collection comprises about 56,000 works at 911 locations in 48 countries. The artists whose works are included in the collection range from Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Alexey Jawlensky and Egon Schiele to Peter Doig, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Neo Rauch and Sean Scully, among many others. The bank is actively collecting artworks, typically in relation to special projects; for instance, in 2010 it focused on a new art concept for the Deutsche Bank Towers, its newly renovated headquarters in Frankfurt, as well as art for its new building in Hong Kong.
For the Frankfurt Towers, Hütte says the bank focused on “young international artists; the youngest was born in the mid-’80s.” These include Mike Bouchet, Mohamed Camara, Cao Fei and Adrian Paci. The bank declined to provide details on its art budget, saying only that specific acquisitions are “always related to the special projects.” He added that the amount of funds allocated for art acquisitions differs with each project.
Asked whether the bank typically sells works, Hütte says Deutsche defines its art holdings as a “‘breathing collection,’ which means that with the aim of improving its quality we focus more consistently on contemporary drawings and photographs, while the number of graphic duplicates . . . [is] reduced.”
West said the art collection is “self-sustaining,” and noted that new pieces are acquired for the collection using money earned from selling “works that have gained in value. Our focus is on young, emerging artists, and when we sell, it is to refresh the collection.” He added that in addition to its own collecting and its art sponsorships, Deutsche Bank also makes loans to collectors that are collateralized by their artworks.
Deutsche Bank also organizes group shows from its collection, mounting these themed exhibitions at Deutsche Guggenheim and other locations where the bank has offices throughout the world. In past years, the bank has selected an “Artist of the Business Year” from among those in its collection for a solo show at Deutsche Guggenheim, which often travels to other museums, as well. Previous selections include Richard Artschwager (2002), Günther Förg (1998), Kara Walker (2000) and Miwa Yanagi (2004). Most recently, the bank inaugurated its “Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim” with the sponsorship of an exhibition of the work of British artist Anish Kapoor at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. After traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, last summer—where it was also sponsored by Deutsche Bank—the exhibition opened at the Guggenheim last October, and will be on view through March 28.