De toekomstige rol van de kunstcollectie in het communicatieve beleid
Symposiumverslag Sacha Tanja, Hoofdconservator ING Collectie – ING Groep, Amsterdam
De ING Groep heeft in Nederland dertigduizend werknemers in dienst en wereldwijd zestigduizend. De huidige collectie van deze financiële instelling bestaat uit de collecties van de ING Bank, Postbank en Nationale Nederlanden en omvat meer dan veertiendui-zend kunstwerken. De collectie heeft een duidelijk eigen gezicht; de verzameling bestaat geheel uit Nederlandse, klassieke en hedendaagse, figuratieve kunst. Sacha Tanja is hoofdconservator van de ING Groep en is verantwoordelijk voor het ontwikkelen, formuleren en realiseren van het kunstbeleid van de ING Groep. Daarnaast is ze al dertig jaar een verwoed privé- verzamelaar van kunst.
In 1974 ING Bank took its first cautious steps as an art collector. Originally intended to be a friendly gesture towards personnel at head office, the Art Department developed as a professional and efficient unit, eventually becoming an independent component within the banking concern. The Art Department decided to buy figurative art. After some years of collecting, in 1983 a review was made of the previous period. An evaluation of the collection revealed that concentration on figurative art had been a wise choice, as the employees preferred figurative to abstract art.
After this, the purchasing policy was concentrated more specifically on Dutch figurative art from 1930 to the present day. Today the collection comprises some 14,000 art works. Although the collection contains work from many different streams, the emphasis rests on realism, expressionism and modern figurative tendencies. Historically, the collection starts with various highlights of the Magic Realism period by Pyke Koch, Carel Willink, Dick Ket, Wim Schuhmacher and Raoul Hynckes.
Gradually the collection was getting larger and larger. ING merged with another bank, with an insurance company and with Barings. They all had their own collection. But most art fitted wonderfully well into what ING already had. The art works that didn’t fit, were not thrown away or put in the basement. People were given the choice to pick whatever they liked for their rooms.
When we started I once made a large exhibition of sculptures and I remember that the day after some of the boardmembers said to me: “Look, we have clients who don’t like this. They think they are paying a lot of interest, because you are buying sculptures.” So in the beginning art was not accepted by our clients. They didn’t like it, but they forgot that, ages ago, most bankers were patrons of the art.
The ING Collection has a dual purpose; on the one hand brightening up the workplace, both in personal offices and in public spaces, and on the other, playing an important role in Art Patronage in The Netherlands. There is plenty of new talent in the collection. For the artist, inclusion in the ING Collection represents a recognition of status and talent. We also started collecting, because gradually our government was retreating from subsidising the arts. The bank was making more and more money and the members of the board felt they had to support the artworld. So the ‘1% rule’ of the Dutch government, to devote one percent of the building costs to art when a new building was constructed, was adopted by us. It was never dictated by the government, but we decided to follow their example. Therefore when this building was built, one percent of the building cost (250 million guilders) was spent on integrated art.
In 1988 ING received the prestigious Art and Work Award for the unique character of the collection as a whole and the way art is integrated into the architecture of the head office in Amsterdam. This prize is awarded by the British Ministry of the Arts for the European company which made the ‘Most Outstanding Contribution to Art in the Working Environment’.
At ING art is never hidden away in the vaults. One of the underlying principles is that art only really comes to life when it reaches the personnel. And in practice this works well. Knowing what interests employees at the bank, what moves them, helps to direct and refine art policy. Since education is an important aspect of art appreciation, each art work is accompanied by information about the artist and the technique used. ING remarkable head office and the various displays of work from the collection of Dutch contemporary figurative art attract many visitors. Sometimes employees introduce new artists or even become avid collectors themselves.
The works from the collection are exhibited in ING offices and those of subsidiaries and branches. Works are regularly provided on loan to museums, and external exhibitions are organised. In addition to the art calendar (300,000 pieces every year), works from the collection are employed for various purposes: Christmas cards, reproductions, annual reports and brochures. Unicef sometimes uses works from the ING Collection for its greeting cards. When an artist is on that calendar or on a postcard his work is going around the world in numbers. Most of our artists therefore are delighted when we use their works. We have also published a catalogue showing a part of the collection. We give commissions too. Doing so, the artists are completely free to make what they want. Sometimes it turns out completely different from what you had expected. When artists get a commission we often follow them with a photographer and then we produce a small booklet, which gives the interested reader an impression of how this work was made.
The collection was, when it started, an autonomous collection. It was never intended to be used for p.r. or sales promotion or for calendars or postcards. We sponsor a lot of cultural events, for example the ‘Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest’, and we sometimes make a brochure together with them. But never ever am I going to buy a piece of art for that particular brochure. Only when it is in the collection and when it fits in the brochure, we use it. I’m not at all against using art for pr-reasons, because art is communication. And if you have an art collection, different departments want to use it. The pr-department will never do something with art, without consulting the art department. In order to keep it that way I would like to stress the necessity of a collecting strategy. In the beginning, when we started this collection, I formulated a strategy. If you have a collection or if you want to set up a collection, please have a strategy, because it makes your position much stronger. We have had so many merges and so many different people with all their own opinions. So every time you are really bombarded with new ideas. And in all these cases you can say “no we have a strategy and you have approved of this strategy and we will continue collecting on the basis of that strategy”.
As I said, the collection was never intended to be a pr instrument, but now it is intensively used that way. There has never been a clash between the pr department and the art department, it has always been a very good companionship. We give a lot of lectures, because people want to know why we are collecting. We use the collection to show that we have other aims than just insurance and banking business. We want people to know that we are also involved into the cultural aspects of our world.
Erik Hermida, Onderneming & Kunst
Dirk Noordman, Organisatieadviseur
Rosemary Harris, NatWest Group
Grazia Quaroni, Fondation Cartier
Maria de Corral, Fundación “La Caixa”
Paul Mertz, Communicatieadviseur