Our sustainable work with and on the collection demonstrates that Mercedes-Benz Group AG commitment to art and culture is an integral part of how we see our company’s social and cultural profile. Promoting contemporary art is part of our company’s wider commitment to culture, based on ideals as regards social issues and processes. Our company’s employees have plenty of opportunities to become familiar with cultural, social, political and aesthetic concepts linked with contemporary art during their ordinary working day. The aim to build up an art collection of high caliber in museum terms, with an abstract 20th-century orientation, has come from the company itself.
From the outset, there was more to the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection than just a notion of providing some visual furniture for the corporate group. In fact, over the years, the collection has grown to become a vital part of the organization and the organization’s commitment to art and to culture. It has become linked in a dialogue with various departments. The company’s worldwide presence is reflected in the collection’s increased mobility, but also in its increasing exploration of international art movements. These explorations are in line with the collection’s abstract and minimalist basic orientation; notwithstanding this, the company’s connections with North and South America, Australia, Japan, South Africa and China have made their mark on the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection’s profile and activities.
The lively exhibition program both within and outside the company and the solid academic work that complements and extends the art collection are just two aspects of the corporate art department’s work. We see the mediation of art as a vital role and a duty, as part of a worldwide commercial corporation whose employees operate in a very wide variety of cultural contexts. Additional focal points include co-operations with other departments of our corporate group: for example, we developed an art concept, which matched the specific cultural identity, for the Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG headquarters in Detroit (2002), and also for the Mercedes-Benz Bank in Stuttgart (2003), and for the Mercedes-Benz branches in Munich, Zurich and Paris (2003-05). Further extensive art concepts were created for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (2006), and for buildings for the Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG in Berlin (2011-13). However, internationalization and globalization also represent a challenge to in-house activities, which the Art Collection is increasingly involved in.
Almost the whole stock of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection is on display to our employees and, on request, to tour parties at various company-owned locations – either permanently or on a temporary basis. In terms of its high quality and its high visibility to our employees, the work that takes place with and on the collection demonstrates that a commitment to art is an integral part of how we see our company’s social and cultural profile. In addition to this, the skills associated with handling the art – in the areas of globalization, identity and the defining of values, for instance – have the capacity to expand the spectrum of approaches to solving problems within the company and to add value by contributing alternative solutions and greater incorporation of ’soft’ factors.
Our aims: the building up of the Art Collection consistently in accordance with the profile that it has developed; academic reappraisal of minimalist tendencies in the international contemporary art; making the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection accessible through guided tours, publications, internet etc.; presenting the collection’s activities with the maximum expertise to an international public interested in art and within the company. For that reason, we see the continuation of the exhibition activities as an integral goal, because thematically concise exhibitions are the most important medium for communicating cultural commitment internally as well as externally.
We also see it as our duty to enlarge our collection because only a lively collection that incorporates and communicates the latest developments in art is seen as an active agent in the promotion of culture. The acquisitions consist principally of art by distinguished international contemporary artists, but also include art by young artists, with a particular focus on artists from Baden-Württemberg and Berlin. The purchase of young art—in particular by artists from Europe, South Africa, India, South America and China — contributes to a conscientious policy of support and is part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility. The integration of young art brings current trends in aesthetics, design, lifestyle, and the formation of values into the company as topics for discussion.
The decisions that affect our museum, our collection, are not taken within the four walls of any one office. We generally show individual artworks and artwork groups in thematic contexts, and in places that are generally accessible to all employees. About a hundred works are displayed at Möhringen at Stuttgart – renewed twice yearly and introduced in monthly tours. The Corporate Art Department has also presented a series of exhibitions on the New York, Berlin and Sindelfingen sites since 2000. In 1999 the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection moved into the elaborately renovated Haus Huth at Potsdamer Platz. For the first time, it now had its own exhibition galleries – the Mercedes-Benz Contemporary. Every three weeks, free guided tours in context of the current exhibition take place. Since 2003, a selection of 150 works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection – by a wide range of artists including Josef Albers, Andy Warhol, Sylvie Fleury and Andrea Zittel – has been touring the globe, visiting various major international museums worldwide. This world tour and the accompanying education program has proved to be a significant instrument for demonstrating the cultural commitment of the Mercedes-Benz Group AG subsidiaries abroad and for developing their cultural identity. We are convinced that high quality and imaginatively curated exhibitions can have a significant and long-term effect.