Companies are big buyers of art and have been since the fifteenth century when the Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena started a collection that still thrives today. Chances are that if you find yourself in a swanky hotel or a big corporate office and you take a look around you that sculpture may well be a Henry Moore or the painting a Tracey Emin. In the 1990’s it was reckoned that at least half the Fortune 500 companies in America and another 2,000 in the USA and Europe were actively collecting Art. Some of these companies have art galleries, others loan their artworks out to public exhibitions but in the main company offices far away from public gaze is where the pictures are to be found.
Bonhams, the high class auctioneers, has teamed up eleven companies which have each loaned four paintings to put on an exhibition of these rarely seen gems to mark the publication of a book entitled “Modern Medicis and their Art Collections 1472-2014” by Peter Harris and Shirley Reiff Howarth . Most of art works are modern but there is a scattering of Picasso and Magritte.
International Law firm Simmons and Simmons have been collecting the past 25 years, concentrating mainly on emerging artists. Most of their collection hangs on the walls of offices. Tracey Emin’s Trust Me from their collection is on show.
Other companies like the have a dedicated gallery to show a selection of their collection, one of is the Scottish banking company Flemings which is acknowledged to be the finest collection of Scottish Art in private hands. The gallery can be found at 13 Berkeley Street, London W1 8DU. The Canary Wharf company has one of the UK’s largest collections of public art and much of it is on display around the Canary Wharf buildings. You can download an art map to guide you round their collection.
HSBC France specialises in photography from masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson to up and coming Chinese artist Xiao Zhang whose ‘ Coastline No2’ shows a crowded beach in rapidly changing China, although I admit that if my holiday snap of a grey crowded beach turned out like this one I’d probably click the delete button.
Bonhams and Sotheby’s both on Bond Street are always worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. Museum class art comes off one private wall, is displayed for potential buyers complete with price tags and then returns to the world of the mega rich. Anybody can wander in and take a look. Not every item has six zeros on the end of the price tag, you might even see something that would look well on your wall. Both auction houses also have very pleasant cafes.
Corporate Art Collections at Bonhams, 101 Bond Street W1. January 13-24.