With nearly 60,000 artworks spread across 40 countries and 900 offices, Deutsche Bank's Art Works is the biggest collection of corporate art in the world.

The German investment bank's global art program was launched in the late 1970s and has since become an integral part of Deutsche Bank's values.

The bank's 'Art Works' collection includes works on paper, photographs, canvases, sculptures and video installations displayed in several bank offices. In addition, Deutsche Bank also enables access to contemporary art in five permanent exhibition spaces in Frankfurt, London, New York, Tokyo and Milan, each with its own philosophy.

But what is the driving force behind this artistic enterprise? Why are Deutsche Bank and other industry titans like J.P. Morgan or UBS (according to a 2016 Forbes magazine article, the UBS art collection amounts to 35,000 works) putting such an emphasis on corporate art?

Cashflow installation in Deutsche Bank
Cashflow by Olaf Metzel, Deutsche Bank Collection in Frankfurt. Image courtesy of Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank said it: Art works. Art fosters innovation. Art is an intellectual asset which has a positive influence on employees. Art sparks conversations and promotes critical thinking. Art helps support local and emerging artists.

When located in high-traffic common areas like lift lobbies and reception areas, art can also convey a message and give businesses a competitive advantage. It can impress customers and boost sales all the while bringing something new to the table.

Deutsche Bank even has an interactive app which gives employees more information about the works they are looking as well as an “Arthothek”, a place where people can seek expert advice on choosing artwork for the workplace. The bank also hosts talks by artists and curates an online contemporary art magazine, ArtMag.

floral wallpaper inside Deutsche Bank in Taipei
Michael Lin, Untitled, 2010. Deutsche Bank Collection. © Michael Lin/Eslite Gallery, Taipei 2010

To further support the art economy and promote contemporary artists, Deutsche Bank also elects an "Artist of the Year". The award is given on the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council which consists of renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn.

This year, South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere is Deutsche Bank's new "Artist of the Year" 2017. He will present his first institutional solo exhibition in Germany at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin in spring 2017.

Kemang Wa Lehulere Artist of the year 2017
Kemang Wa Lehulere, Deutsche Bank 

Aside from its aesthetic appeal, corporate art makes sounds business sense too. To quote Alex Heath, managing director at International Art Consultants:

“A momentary distraction is definitely not a bad thing in the workplace. Art has historically always been about escape, and we all need is an escape sometimes.”

12 harmonics in deutsche bank reception
12 Harmonics by Keith Tyson in Deutsche Bank London. Photograph: Deutsche Bank
conceptual art at work
The Gates, Project for Central Park, NYC, 2003 by Christo. All works Deutsche Bank Collection.
Collection of artwork inside Deutsche Bank
Shirakami #1, #3, #5, #7, 2008 by Tokihiro Sato. All works Deutsche Bank Collection
Deutsche Bank London reception art by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst
Art by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst in Deutsche Bank London's reception area. Deutsche Bank

Made in Bulgaria, raised in Morocco, "matured" in the UK, Elissaveta is our Editor-in-Chief. Her career started in the field of architecture and design where she developed a talent for creative thinking and an eye for aesthetics. In 2014, she found her calling in design journalism and now has over three years’ experience in writing about design & architecture.