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Global Head of Art at the Deutsche Bank

Friedhelm Hütte is the global Head of Art at the Deutsche Bank, one of the main sponsor of Frieze London every year. He oversees the Deutsche Bank Collection, which is the biggest private collection in the world.
Artsper interviewed this high calibre man to get his insights on the relation between art and the private sector.

Artsper: Mr Hütte, you oversee one of the globally most renowned corporate art collections, how did you get where you are today?
Friedhelm Hütte: We have started collecting art about 35 years ago. The thrust of the collection is towards contemporary art, which means art created after 1945. We focus on works on paper, including drawings as well as photographs. So why contemporary art, one might ask. As a global bank we wanted to get involved in the communities we work and life in. We have been an integrated part of society in many countries for many, many years. To give an example: already in 1872 we have opened our first overseas office in Shanghai.
Our customers expect us to be innovative and forward thinking – and contemporary art does just that: it brings new thinking and new ideas from around the globe to our offices. And just as our bank is present on five continents, we have works of artists from all five continents. So our collection perfectly reflects the philosophy of our bank.

Artsper: Can you tell us a little bit about how it works: how and when do you buy art?
Friedhelm Hütte: Our team is based internationally. We monitor art magazines and attend international exhibitions and art fairs. Those artists, we believe are interesting, we have on our internal ‘watch list’. Furthermore, we work with external experts such as Okwui Enwezor, who just curated the Venice Biennale, or Victoria Northoorn from Buenos Aires. When it comes to acquisitions, my team makes a proposal and a committee composed of several executives of the bank makes the final decision.

Artsper: How do you display your vast collection?
Friedhelm Hütte: One of the principles of our collection is that we make art accessible to our employees and those visiting our offices. Imagine, about 95 percent of our collection is permanently on display: In our UK offices, almost 4,000 artworks are on view, across the Americas nearly 7,000 contemporary works on paper by internationally recognized artists. In the Deutsche Bank Towers in Frankfurt we show approximately 1,800 works on paper by 100 international artists from over 40 countries. Each floor in the towers is devoted to another artist. In addition, we present dedicated exhibitions from our collection in museums worldwide. Currently the exhibition “Time Present” is travelling through Asia – after its venues in Singapore and Mumbai it is now on view in Tokyo. We also support museums globally by giving artworks as loans for their exhibitions. Moreover, in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin we showcase four annual high-quality exhibitions developed by artists and international guest curators. Unlike many other corporates we offer free tours through our offices. Via an App visitors can even join virtual tours through our collection.

Artsper: What impact does joining the Deutsche Bank Collection have on an artist’s career?
Friedhelm Hütte: A program such as our “Artist of the Year”, which also includes acquisitions for the collections, offers first of all a broad platform for the artist. Starting with the solo show at our KunstHalle in Berlin, the exhibit then travels to different international venues. Through those exhibits and various publications the artist gains high visibility within the art world. This of course pushes the artist’s development tremendously. We are really excited about the global attention this award brings to some of the most original international artists working today. Among them are Wangechi Mutu,Yto Barrada, Imran Qureshi or currently Koki Tanaka, who is taking part at this week’s Marathone at the Serpentine.

Artsper: Deutsche Bank is a major sponsor of Frieze Art Fair, can you tell us the strategy behind it and what it brings to the company?
Friedhelm Hütte: Our longstanding partnership with Frieze is part of our commitment to bringing people closer to art, to make art accessible to everyone. Of course, Frieze is also the perfect platform for networking within the international art world. Furthermore, it’s a great opportunity to spot new talents.

Artsper: What part of this year’s program at Frieze are you particularly excited about?
Friedhelm Hütte: As in every year, I will try not to miss Frieze Projects and Frieze Live, where performative works are on display. There, you can make real discoveries. Also, I appreciate very much the great educational effort Frieze is undertaking. I am particularly excited that we can support the “Family Guide” which is bundling the manifold activities, which bring art closer to children.

Artsper: Are pieces from the Deutsche Bank Collection or from your “Artist of the Year” 2016, Basim Magdy on show during the fair?
Friedhelm Hütte: Certainly one of the most pressing political, economical and social challenges Europe is currently faced with is international migration. In our exhibition "Beyond the Front Page", on display in our Lounge at Frieze, we highlight the ebb and flow of ideas between contemporary artists from both sides of the Mediterranean. Works by Basim Magdy will be on view in his first institutional solo show at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle next spring.

Artsper: Bring art inside work places is a way to make the culture more accessible, with Artsper we want to make the art world more transparent and less intimidating. What is your opinion on website presenting art and galleries online such as Artsper?
Friedhelm Hütte: We strongly believe that digital platforms for art are a great opportunity, in particular for contemporary art. Actually, with ArtMag, we’ve been publishing an online art magazine since 2002 ourselves.
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