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Τρίτη, 7 Δεκεμβρίου, 2021
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionCultureWhy Contemporary Corporations Invest in Art?

Why Contemporary Corporations Invest in Art?

By Socratis Santik Oglou,  

If you think about it, the way that art and business blend together is a really interesting topic to study about. Now, with all these easier ways of getting your work out to the public, through artists on social media and all creative ways of gaining recognition -which adds to the value of an artwork-, the combination of art and business became more complicated, when at the same time new “tactics” have formed by various big corporations. Of course, some of the reasons why a corporation would buy or invest in art are obvious, like decorating their walls or making them seem more sophisticated by the public, but what is really happening?

Employers nowadays are acknowledging the humane nature of their employees and that is why they give, for example, breaks and maybe free lunch at work and a cozy workplace. Alongside those things, having artworks hanging on the walls of the office seems to be an important thing too. Various studies have shown that art can increase productivity and creativity, as businesses are seeking new ways to stimulate creative thinking and attract a diverse workforce, and art appears to be a helpful tool.

While large corporations and banks invest millions of dollars in art collections, a rapid increase in corporate art rentals demonstrates that you do not have to be a millionaire to acquire expensive fine art pieces for your office. Art rental businesses allow corporations to rent artworks to portray in their offices for a limited, predefined period of time. A wide array allows you to choose from a broad range of works, from well-known artists to less-known, emerging artists. The lease price is determined by the value of the artwork, the number of pieces, and the length of the deal. And there come the taxes in art, that we are not going to talk about in this article. 

In addition to that, art rental businesses can undertake the placement of the artworks and the constant changing of their placement in the workplace. According to studies, altering the location of artworks will keep the office new and employees intrigued, inspired, and satisfied. 

Moreover, what many marketing executives try to achieve nowadays is to make corporations be seen as more than simply a faceless business, which they usually accomplish by exaggerating their charities and community initiatives. But, another way to achieve that is through art, because art can serve as a way of communicating various direct or indirect messages to the public.

Along with overall branding, art can help shape corporate identity, especially now that it is becoming more and more difficult to manage brand image due to social media clutter. Nevertheless, this is taking place not only to present who they truly are but also to shape how they want to be perceived in the public. Take multinational corporations, for example. Companies might invest in local artists to show their support for each country and culture where they have branches. More and more corporations see their art collections as an extension of their social responsibility initiatives, a way to engage with the larger community, distribute earnings, and possibly reduce the probability of a proletariat upheaval.

Companies want to convey a modern, forward-thinking image, not a stuffy old image. As a result, they tend to buy modern and postmodern artworks. Also, for some corporations, there is no better way to build up a sense of taste and sophistication in the workplace than to invest in a collection of artworks.

Image source: https://www.workdesign.com/2020/01/why-workplace-art-is-a-good-investment-and-good-business/

Art is an asset class, and businesses are for-profit companies with profit-driven purposes. Art is like stocks and precious metals, and real estate, which means that it is a risky investment too since it may or may not pay off in the future. Lehmann Brothers were one of the corporations that exemplified the financial crises’ excesses. Lehmann was the first and most significant casualty of the crisis, and it was also noted for its outstanding art collection. The firm’s collection was auctioned off two years after the collapse in a desperate attempt to repay some of the creditors who had lost so much. Lucien Freud, Gary Hume, Thomas Luny, Andreas Gursky, and Damien Hirst were among the artists participating in the bidding. The art of the European division brought in £1.6 million at bidding, while the art of the New York section brought in $12 million. Unfortunately, this was a small number compared to the amount of money the corporation lost during the financial crisis. I use the Lehmann Brothers as an example for an additional reason why businesses buy art. Art has value and that value doubles as the years go by, and that means that in case of a financial crisis, the corporation could sell the artworks in an action for astonishing prices that could pay off debts. If you think about it, it is a smart investment.

Corporations want to be good community partners and be seen as good community partners that care for their customers, but never at the expense of their own financial interests. Abraaj Capital, established in the United Arab Emirates, gathers and funds upcoming artists, several of whom reside and operate in the Middle East and have been disregarded in the past. Abraaj organizes and conducts an annual art contest, and they buy works from the finalists to add to their collection. 

It is a win-to-win game. The artists win because they get funds and visibility, and Abraaj wins too because they built empathy to the public and the recognition the artists gain after the annual contest. Artworks increase their market worth, which equals to more money. Tactics like this one are great. Nowadays, corporations can be in charge of bringing fresh and original works to the public, not just by supporting artists, but also by supporting a slew of other art experts.

Corporations have made a lot of progress in the past decade in embracing the work of a variety of artists, but on the other hand, the sad news is that they will never buy or increase the diversity of works that includes nudes or anything aggressive, and some corporations even avoid any form of human portrayal at all, because it is detrimental to their image or because it can cause some kind of controversy, but that is another, negative, at least for me, issue that comes with the positives of the relations between business and art and we are not going to talk about in this article.

In conclusion, I think that we can all take the example from businesses, that use art as a helpful tool for many reasons, like the centrality of art to well-being and stimulating productivity and creativity in the work environment. Also, it got me thinking that, if corporations have figured out how powerful art is and the role it can play to various departments of human activity, when will the rest of the world realize it too?


  • Gray, J., (2014), Why big corporations are falling for art, EUROPEANCEO. Available here.
  • Karabell, S., (2018), Art Is Good for Business, strategy + business. Available here.
  • Jovic, M., (2018), Art Owned by Businesses: The Changing Role of Corporate Art Collections, artacacia. Available here.
  • The Art Assignment, (2019, November 14). Why Do Corporations Buy Art? [Video File]. Available here.



Socratis Santik Oglou
Born and raised in Greece, he is 20 years old, and he studies at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, at the department of Communication, Media & Culture, with a specialty at Culture & Cultural Management. He loves art, architecture, and old films but, he finds great interest in social research methodology, social behaviours and LGBTQ+ psychology, as well. He would see himself in the future working at social research or as an art historian or auctioneer in an Art Museum but, he has not yet settled down. He is open to whatever life brings on his path.