Trends in Corporate Art

Trends in Corporate Art


You might think that I am now about to write about what Corporate Art buyers purchase? Perhaps, what they want from a canvass or painting? But, I wonder if there is something we need to think more about. Not just the trends in corporate art but the influence corporations have on the trends themselves. Let me explain.

You could say that trends in corporate art goes back to the 15th century. There are records of Italian banks at the time commissioning work for their boardrooms. Nothing changes! They wanted paintings that reflected the brand and the character of the bank. It`s something I do all the time with my own corporate art clients. I painted an abstract piece for a Public Relations company boardroom the other day.

But it was really in the 1980`s that corporate art started to kick off. In the both the UK and America, companies used their growing economic power to purchase art but also to use that same purchasing power to determine what paintings and canvasses were collected. No longer were they looking for a painting off the shelf, they wanted a custom solution to their corporate art needs.

In many ways they took on the role of art gallery owner. They didn`t just want one painting they wanted a whole collection. As I say, perhaps they wanted an abstract work for the boardroom but then they also wanted, something calm for the reception area, or a massive canvass with vibrant and bright paints for the open plan office where their employees sit.

What went from being just a few paintings turned into what a new trend that amounted to the setting up of an art gallery but with employees working in them. Is it any wonder that corporations now have full time art curators to advise them on their paintings.

Of course we all want corporate work and I don`t know about you, but corporate work, despite it`s connotations, I think, provides immensely satisfying work. They know what they need and often that is different to what we may have in our minds. That pushes us outside our `creative artist` box and challenges us to take our skills to a whole new level.

For some people corporate art is something to be criticised but I see it as something that artists should embrace and delight in. Frankly I wish more corporate offices or should we now call them corporate `art galleries`, were open to the public.

Here`s another reason why there has been such a growing trend in Corporate Art. Providing you can justify that it truly is a business expense. then companies can use it as part of their decoration budget. Don`t quote me on that, I`m not an accountant and the law changes all the time but most companies know how to make the most of their tax allowances. Plus, even if a company can`t write a painting off, they can use it as an investment. Corporate art curators can sell on paintings and probably make a good profit if they know their job.

But!, I hear you say. What about the recession? It`s true that corporate art collections were cut back during the worst of the downturn but whatever the doom-mongers say, things are turning around. Money is being made again and corporate art is back on the agenda in a big way.

But, where does that leave us? What are the trends in corporate art for those of us who are not `big names` yet?

Well, I`m here to tell you that I think it is a very exciting time. People who run businesses don`t want to work in a dirty factory any more. They want to work in a vibrant work place.

Think of all those tech start up companies in their modern style offices. It`s a perfect place for abstract art. Let`s not forget the smaller businesses too. I tweeted, only the other day, a picture of my favourite pizza shop. Behind the owner is a painting of mine that he commissioned from me.

So what is the future for corporate art? For as long as human like colour and paint and canvasses to provide joy there will be art, providing there is business, there will be corporate art. I`m going to stick my neck out and say, I think corporate art is like death and taxes, it`ll always be here and someone has to create it.