Oliver Koerner von Gustorf: What are the perspectives for Deutsche Bank's art program in 2009?
Friedhelm Hütte: For 2009, we were planning to increase the focus of our activities in 2009, to open up the collection more, and to communicate the program with more force. As a result, and thankfully so, art occupies a place of strategic importance within the framework of the bank's new approach to Corporate Social Responsibity. According to the motto Fostering Creativity, we will put even more emphasis on young contemporary art. And of course our foundation will continue to support the Villa Romana fellowship, which enables four artists living in Germany to spend 10 months in the renowned artists' house in Florence. In 2009, the Prize for Young Polish Art, initiated and sponsored by the Deutsche Bank Foundation, will be awarded for the fourth time in Warsaw. In addition, we are sponsoring the 3M Project at the New Museum in New York, a far-sighted project in which the New Museum collaborates with the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Together, the three institutions give artists like Jeremy Deller, Daria Martin, and Mathias Poledna the opportunity to create new works.
Young art will also be on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin?
In Berlin, the young New York painter Julie Mehretu is working on a spectacular commissioned work for the Deutsche Guggenheim. She's succeeded in adding something completely new to the medium of the panel painting-formally, in that she applies up to a hundred layers of paint and combines a variety of different elements in her incredibly dynamic works: gestural areas, geometric color fields, symbols, city maps, and computer-generated architectural drawings, and-in her works currently in progress-facades of historical Berlin buildings and street views. But also in terms of content, with her approach to themes such as migration and war, which she researches in depth. Her commissioned work is an investigation of urbanization and demise, city and ruin-a highly contemporary set of themes.
The economic turbulence around the world has had a direct effect on cultural funding. Many companies have had to reduce their support. Particularly in countries like the USA, where public cultural institutions are heavily dependent on private sponsors and corporations, this development is being watched with increasing apprehension. How do you view the prospects for Deutsche Bank's commitment to art worldwide?
It's very important to remain committed to cultural support, especially now. We've already seen in the US how a reduction in corporate support can result in serious consequences for many institutions. This is evidenced not only by the shrinking budgets of opera houses and museums, but also by the decrease in creative educational opportunities for children and young people. The situation varies from country to country, of course. But what is becoming more and more apparent is that the support is missing in the places it's needed most: for people who often can't afford the entrance fees to visit museums, or for the younger generation, for whom cultural experience and education are particularly crucial. Deutsche Bank regards its involvement in the area of corporate social responsibility as a substantial part of its business activities. All our social activities take place under the motto "Creating Social Capital"-also in the area of art. When we fund creativity, it's not a superfluous luxury, it's not a fig leaf, but a thoroughly necessary investment in the future, which both the bank and society at large profit from. That's why it's crucial to work with the available means in an even more efficient and responsible manner-to concentrate our commitment, not reduce it. It's a matter of developing even more forms of synergy with other institutions.
What does this mean in concrete terms?
One good example is the extended loan of 600 important works from our collection, which we agreed to in 2008 with the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. This was one of my own personal highlights. From 2011 on, works by artists like Anselm Kiefer, Rosemarie Trockel, and Gerhard Richter will be accessible to a much wider public in the new museum annex. And young art will take their place in the bank's branches.
What are the plans for the bank collection in 2009?
In the area of art, "Going Public" stands for our aim to open up our collection even more through exhibitions, guided tours, and educational projects. Our series of artists' talks has become quite successful in Berlin and will be continued throughout this year. We are planning to initiate events like this in London, Milan and after that in other vital locations, as well. The entire art program will become even more international than before, and the art installment in the new twin towers in Frankfurt will provide a direct experience of our global commitment to staff and visitors. We'll be showing only the very best that our collection has to offer here in terms of young international art. Following their modernization, the bank will be moving back into the towers at the end of 2010. And so, this year is already slated for the new art installment.
What's the state of planning for the moment?
Right now, we're working on the curatorial concept, supported by a team of expert external advisors-Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Nancy Spector. New to the twin towers is the Art Café, which will be accessible to the public and will have a showroom with rotating exhibitions.
Are exhibitions with works from the bank collection in the planning again?
At the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, we will be showing an exhibition of works by Imi Knoebel from the Deutsche Bank Collection. One of our collection's special features is the fact that we possess large work groups by certain artists like Polke, Baselitz, and of course Knoebel. Due to our consistency in collecting his work, we're in a position to present a highly focused exhibition. Approximately one thousand of his works enable us to shed light on nearly forty years of his creative activity. The special thing about this Beuys student is that he worked abstract from the very beginning, yet without ever repeating himself. Knoebel continued developing his work from his original fundamental beliefs, and surprising works are coming out of this to this day.
You are curating the exhibition yourself. Why did you decide on Knoebel at this particular time?
Knoebel's work has taken on a heightened relevance in light of the "new abstraction" being made by artists like Anselm Reyle and Markus Amm. For some time now, there's been a new debate over formalism and a return among the younger generation to the abstract art of Classic Modernism. Knoebel has been investigating this formal language since the beginning of his career in the sixties, and he's tried to take the positions of artists like Kasimir Malevich and develop them into the present day. Especially at a time when the art market is reorienting itself, when a renewed interest in positions and content becomes evident, it seems to me that artists like Knoebel who have been pursuing their work seriously and unerringly are particularly relevant.
Soon, the exhibition Picturing America presenting the Photorealists of the 1970s will open at the Deutsche Guggenheim. What induced you to dedicate a comprehensive exhibition to this movement?
There hasn't been a show like this in Germany for thirty years. On the one hand, the Deutsche Guggenheim shows new commissioned works, but there is also a commitment to presenting new ways of seeing older works of art history. The medium of photography has undergone a tremendous development over the past several years, and large-scale color photographs now compete directly with paintings. In this context, it's very interesting to take a closer look at the Photorealists' paintings. Furthermore, the movement has particular relevance in Germany, because some of these paintings were shown at the documenta V in 1972, and Photorealism was particularly popular here. This can also be seen from the many Photorealist works in German collections.
The Photorealists were already been hotly discussed in the early seventies, while the art scene, dominated as it was by Minimal and Conceptual art, detected conservative strains in this type of figurative painting.
Of course Photorealism stood in opposition to Minimal art back then. But the widespread view of the movement seems pretty limited to me. Most people only know two or three icons of Photorealist painting by Richard Estes or Chuck Close. The larger spectrum of the movement is unknown to a majority of the public. Our exhibition provides an opportunity to discover the broad range of these paintings. And just as it did with the exhibitions of young American artists like Phoebe Washburn and Collier Schorr, the Deutsche Guggenheim will play a pioneering role here, as well: to be precise, Photorealism is not being rediscovered in this exhibition, but rather discovered for the first time-at least in all its variety. Picturing America can also be understood as a programmatic title. Especially at the moment, given the optimistic mood in the US, these paintings are especially interesting because they reflect America's image of itself at that time.