by Hilmar Kopper/1999
A banker who is weak with numbers? Unheard of. A bank lacking a commitment
to culture? Unlikely. A museum director who is obliged to spend more time
working on financial analyses than on picture analyses? Sadly, this is
the situation museums are increasingly facing. So why not take the logical
step of joining forces to assume social responsibility and perform public
functions? Such a cooperation is particularly fruitful if it amounts to
more than a mere addition of art and capital, is aimed at creating value
added that exceeds each partner's potential were he to go it alone. Deutsche
Guggenheim Berlin is the product of this thought process.
After the fall of the Wall, Deutsche Bank had the opportunity to combine
the revolution in the east with a return to the settings of its historical
beginnings in Berlin. While the bank's older building with the well-known
Schwibbogen (flying buttresses) situated on Mauer and Französische
Strasse had already been earmarked in connection with the government's
move to Berlin, the Bank was able to purchase the business premises of
the Disconto-Gesellschaft - the bank Deutsche Bank had merged with in
1929 - from the Treuhand in 1992.
The two buildings on the corner of Unter den Linden/Charlottenstrasse
were refurbished according to the plans of Berlin architect Benedict Tonon.
When restoring the plain building from the '20s and the red historic sandstone
building constructed 1889/91, Deutsche Bank sought to restore the original
appearance of the buildings and integrate them into the Unter den Linden
setting. Its interior, however, is fitted with ultramodern equipment and
technology. From here, the Bank steers its business operations in Berlin,
Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and northern Saxony-Anhalt.
Right from the start, the building's long room facing the boulevard was
intended for public use to revive the traditional Unter den Linden boulevard.
There were suggestions for a cultural forum as well as for other uses
- however, there was no thoroughly convincing idea. That changed after
a meeting with Thomas Krens in New York in July 1996. The Director of
the Guggenheim Museum had previously expressed his interest in Berlin
in connection with the global expansion of the Guggenheim Foundation.
The bank building in the city centre - in the immediate vicinity of the
museum island and the gallery districts surrounding Auguststrasse -, the
bank's commitment to the arts and his own plans meshed perfectly. Two
partners had found each other, both innovative in their own areas, who,
despite their domestic focus, operated on a global scale and had already
realized numerous joint exhibition projects. Viewings and discussions
followed and a concept soon emerged that envisaged a unique joint venture
between a museum and a company:
- An exhibition hall Unter den Linden was to be jointly planned and managed
- both would commission internationally renowned but also young artists
to create new works for the exhibition hall in Berlin.
This idea was realized with the official opening on November 6, 1997 and
the exhibitions staged since go well beyond previous forms of cooperation
between industry and art.
Private forms of cultural sponsorship had existed already. For example,
there were companies which operated their own art halls or museums, lent
financial support to public art institutes or extended loans. The Solomon
R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York and Deutsche Bank AG in Frankfurt
am Main, however, manage the exhibition forum as equal partners. Both
institutions contribute their specific intellectual and material capital
to the joint venture:
the Guggenheim Foundation the knowledge of its curators, their numerous
contacts with lenders and artists around the world and the foundation's
own exceptional art collections. The Bank lends to the project its many
years of experience, above all in contemporary art, its business know-how,
its art collection, the building and the necessary financial funding.
These intentions find expression in the project's grammatically unusual
but deliberately chosen name: Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. "Deutsche"
here is not an adjective referring to a Guggenheim branch, but rather
- like the colour and namestyle - is a synonym and element of the name
of the partner Deutsche Bank.
The global expansion of the Guggenheim Foundation, driven by Thomas Krens,
is necessary and understandable given the objective of generating the
maximum publicity for outstanding art and making the most effective use
of scarce resources. The interests of the donators and artists would certainly
not be served if the bulk of the collection were to lie in storage, not
owing to a lack in quality but in exhibition space. Moreover, the addition
of further locations substantially reduces the costs for their presentation
at one location. Consequently, as long as there are there are no curatorial
objections, each museum manager who does not happen to have won in the
lottery or is not a Getty millionaire must recognize to need to plan beyond
his regional horizon.
American art in all its variety largely originated on the basis of private
initiative. It is supported and, in the absence of public funds, dependent
on private funding. In the United States, donations per capita and year
average DM 1,200, but only DM 170 in Germany. U.S. citizens spend 12 thousanths
of their annual income on charitable causes - Germans, however, only three
(Manager Magazin, June 1998, page 231). Despite these private contributions,
however, museums are well advised to become economically independent in
the long term - apart from the necessary acquisition of funds - not as
an end in itself, but to safeguard their cultural mission. Given the current
trend towards more leisure time and a growing interest in the arts, their
chances of achieving this are better than ever.
Convinced that the immediate experience of outstanding art is vital and
intellectually beneficial to any society, Deutsche Bank has consistently
supported the cultural exchange and visual experience of contemporary
art since the '70s through its own art collection and by presenting it
under the motto "art at the workplace".
Works on paper are purchased and exhibited on bank premises to support
young artists from German-speaking countries. This commitment allows staff,
clients and the bank's guests to encounter contemporary art outside museums
and galleries. The exhibits in the Twin Towers at Head Office Frankfurt
am Main are an example of Deutsche Bank's collection. Each of the 55 floors
of the Twin Towers opened in 1985 is devoted to the works of one artist,
lending character to each floor and documenting the artist's development.
Deutsche Bank's commitment to contemporary art is not only limited to
Head Office Frankfurt. To date, more than 700 branches, including 60 foreign
branches, have been furnished with artworks. In cooperation with the individual
branches and subsidiaries, individual concepts arise on the basis of which
artworks are exhibited in new or converted buildings. A variant on this
is the bank's furnishing of its foreign branches where works by contemporary
German artists and those by young national artists are hung side by side,
often leading to interesting dialogues and parallels. This gives the collection
an international character, a fitting reflection of the development of
the art scene and the bank's profile.
As a continuation of this long-standing commitment to the fine arts and
as a new forward-looking strategy, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin share four common goals:
- It is one of the many services whereby we fulfil our obligation, as
laid down in the Basic Law, to the society of which we are part. In particular,
this is our contribution to Berlin's development as a European metropolis.
- With special tours and events, we give our customers an opportunity
to encounter outstanding artists and their works. Catalogues and editions
are welcome gifts, and the atrium is also an ideal venue for events hosted
by the companies themselves.
- We broaden our cultural offering to our staff who benefit from our cooperation
with the Guggenheim worldwide, for example through free admissions, special
guided tours and special price offers for catalogues and items from our
- Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin is an advertisement for Deutsche Bank's global
expertise, quality and innovate potential.
We were able to win American architect Richard Gluckman who designed the
exhibition hall. His design reduces the 8 meter wide, 50 meter long and
6 meter high room to a long rectangle. The extensive modern technical
equipment is nearly invisible, the furniture, also designed by Gluckman,
reduced to cubic forms and the Terazzo floor as neutral as possible. This
reduction leaves ample scope for variation in forming additional rooms
and sections, also allowing the complete removal of the wall in front
of the windows. The art dictates the appropriate architectural setting
and is given the scope it needs for its optimum presentation.
A broad staircase leads visitors to a smaller adjacent room containing
the KAFFEEBANK café and the MuseumShop. Three wide glass doors
create a link to the bank's spacious, roofed atrium. This architecture
serves as a forum for customers and guests that uniquely combines a cultural
experience with a venue for functions.
The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin programme is developed jointly by the curators
in New York and the custodians of the collection.
With exhibitions of unusual and outstanding art, limited in size, but
highly focussed, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin contributes to the art scene
in Berlin and beyond.
All opportunities arising from the joint venture between the Bank and
the museum are used to offer a unique experience of art from the present
and former periods. Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, however, not only exhibits
existing works of art but invites artists to use its space to create new
art, thereby transforming the exhibition hall into an art studio.
There should be an even balance between commissioned works and other exhibitions.
Works by older artists such as James Rosenquist or Helen Frankenthaler
and works by newcomers such as Andreas Slominski fall within both categories.
Traditional exhibits such as the Delaunay paintings or Russian art from
the 20s will be on view in Berlin at least once a year. The same goes
for works from Deutsche Bank's art collection which, in future, will be
shown regularly in May.
With the exception of the last item of the programme, the planning, composition,
organization and hanging of the exhibitions are overseen by alternating
curators of the Guggenheim Museum who are also responsible for the accompanying
catalogue. Although there are clear priorities with regard to responsibilities
for individual tasks, all decisions are ultimately taken jointly. Day-to-day
management, advertising, press work and the accompanying programme are
the responsibility of the bank's staff.
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin is an ideal venue for offering a detailed view
of limited but central themes or series from the oeuvre of individual
The opening exhibition Visions of Paris: Robert Delaunay's Series, which
comprised more than 30 oil paintings and drawings, focused on the series
by the French painter Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) which, for the first
time, formed the central theme of an exhibition. The Saint-Séverin,
Eiffel Tower, City Views, and Windows series, created between 1909 and
1914, marks the central period of the artist's oeuvre.
With respect to the exhibition concept, the Helen Frankenthalter exhibition
in the autumn of 1998 took up the thread of Visions of Paris. Whereas
the motifs had been all-important in the Delaunay series, the selection
of works by the American artist centred on her pivotal work Mountains
and Sea from 1952 and the narrow but productive period between 1956 and
Prior to the Frankenthaler paintings, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin in From
Dürer to Rauschenberg showed an extensive selection of 89 exhibits
covering five centuries and comprising the best drawings from the collections
of the Guggenheim Musuem and Vienna's Albertina. It was a particular success
that such an outstanding institution as the Albertina, with its long and
rich tradition, cooperated with our new exhibition hall. In future, Deutsche
Guggenheim Berlin will continue to show works not only from the bank's
and the Guggenheim collections, but also unique artworks from the collections
of international museums.
American artist James Rosenquist created the first commissioned work for
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin with his painting The Swimmer in the Econo-mist.
In March 1997, the commissioned work for the exhibition hall Unter den
Linden was presented to the public together with preliminary sketches.
Following the tradition of his environmental paintings, Rosenquist transformed
the walls of the 400 square metre large room into a circular painting.
Recollecting Germany and Berlin, which Rosenquist had visited shortly
after the fall of the wall, he created a stirring, dynamic image of Germany.
Measuring over 48 metres in length, this is Rosenquists largest painting
With Works on Pigment by Kartharina Sieverding (September/October 1998),
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin for the first time presented works from Deutsche
Bank's own collection in the exhibition hall Unter den Linden. This part
of the programme will be continued in the coming years with works by Georg
Baselitz and Günther Förg.
Right from the start, special importance was attached to the programme
accompanying each exhibition: daily guided tours, key-note tours and lunch
lectures form part of a regular offering. Special events were held repeatedly
in cooperation with other cultural institutions in Berlin, based on the
objective of cooperation rather than competition, openness rather than
exclusivity. Examples to date include: a film series on Robert Delaunay
in cooperation with the Institue Francaise, a fashion show which exclusively
showed clothing designed by artists on the occasion of the presentation
of the paper suit by James Rosenquist and the Berlin Philharmonic concerts
with pieces from five centuries that accompanied the From Dürer to
Moreover, there were soirees, a pop art tour through Berlin, Peggy Guggenheims
100th birthday party and much more. This was appreciated by museum goers
as the numbers illustrate: the film events were sold out, 4,000 visitors
took part in our programme during the last Long Night of the Museums and
an audience of over 500 listened to the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic.
In advertising, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin also uses unusual measures
to attract the public to art. Large-size posters, radio spots - a medium
appropriate to the art shown is designed to attract visitors, and does
indeed: the Delaunay exhibition drew more than 45,000 visitors and 37,000
studied the drawings From Dürer to Rauschenberg.
The day-to-day management in particular illustrates the advantages offered
by the joint venture: Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin is open daily from 11
a.m. to 8 p.m. with free admission on Mondays.
Within a short time, the MuseumShop was rated the best in Berlin and,
in terms of visitor numbers, had the highest sales. A permanent selection
of the most attractive products of the Guggenheim in New York and Venice
as well as objects by young Berlin designers are offered on a relatively
small space. There is a special emphasis on inexpensive, original gifts
and toys for children.
Moreover, a theme-related collection is compiled for each exhibition,
ranging from the relevant publications and chocolate night watchmen from
the Rijksmuseum to prints from the respective artist.
On each occasion, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin offers its own exclusive
limited edition which is directly related to the exhibition or artist:
Calvados with a Delaunay label, a paper suit by Rosenquist, the Dürer
pencil case - to be continued.
The KAFEEBANK café, which is integrated into the MuseumShop, offers
snacks and excellent coffees, tees and drinks. Newspapers and magazines
tempt visitors to linger.
The possibility to use the atrium and the exhibition hall simultaneously
has met with a positive response and events have successfully been hosted
by numerous customers. Our guests have included the exhibitors and collectors
of the European Art Forum and the World Congress of the CISAC, the association
of copyright institutions.
Visitor numbers, reviews and museums', lenders' and artists' willingness
to cooperate with us testify to the success of the concept and its realization.
This is an incentive for us to continue to think beyond balance sheet
figures and mathematics to offer the public - at least as far as the field
of art is concerned - some of those singular experiences and moments which
give meaning and reason to the reach for material gain.
Hilmar Kopper has been Spokesman of the Group Board of Deutsche Bank
AG form December 1989 till May 1997/ Source: Hilmar Hoffmann (Hrsg.):
Das Guggenheim Prinzip, DuMont Verlag, Cologne, 1999