Internationally respected as being one of the top Swiss Private banks right from its foundation in 1890, the bank has always been faithful to its core values of care, passion and excellence. It cares for its clients and employees, it is passionate about its business while investing into the future, and it is constantly engaged in a quest for excellence.
For over 35 years, the Julius Bär Art Collection has been a point of reference in the contemporary art world. Its mission is embodied not only in the work of the Art Committee, but through the young artists they follow and support, and the way art is exhibited and shared at the headquarters or in the bank's other offices around the world.
Chantal Michel, Die Wirklichkeit, stellt eine Unwahrscheinlichkeit 1999, photograph behing plexiglas on aluminium
The project began in 1981, when the Julius Bär Art Committee was founded. "The Art Committee's objective was, and still is, to buy and display contemporary Swiss art with the objective of supporting artists who are at a very early stage of their career," said Barbara Staubli, Curator of the Art Collection. The bank's founders have always been very interested in art, and they particularly wanted to share it. At a very early stage, the family realised that art can bring people together, initiate discussions and become part of day-to-day culture.
Sara Masüger, Sitting, 2013
The art collection is accessible to all the bank's employees at their HQ in Zurich, independent of their position. Anyone can choose an art piece for his or her office, and with more than 5,000 pieces, there is a wide choice. The paintings, sculptures, videos, graphics, drawings and photographs displayed throughout all parts of the bank (entrance, corridors, meeting rooms, canteens and offices) tend to challenge, provoke and inspire the staff, and equally their clients.
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In the bank there is even an interior that resembles a small museum, where employees can seek inspiration, or just relax in an calm and ‘zen’ environment surrounded by water.
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Art is literally everywhere and while walking through the bank from one floor to the next, Dr. Thomas Meier, Managing Director and Head of Corporate Sustainability, shows us his favourite pieces by Annelore Schneider, Claude Piguet and Swann Thommen. Three large pieces in transparent acrylic express something very modern and at the same time bring a touch of elegance to the spacious staircases running between the two floors. A moment of light and inspiration.
Julius Bär Collection
While exhibiting Swiss art in Switzerland may seem rather insular, it can help explaining the Swiss heritage to visitors from abroad. This in turn provides a link to the Julius Bär heritage, as ‘Swissness’ is one of the company's hallmarks. Art can build bridges from one culture to another, between countries and continents, between employees and clients. At the bank, art is never considered as a financial investment, but a philanthropic activity designed to help artists at an early stage of their careers.
Most of the time, the first contact between the Art Committee and an artist is at an exhibition. If the Committee, consisting of five people, likes an artwork, they may decide to buy a first piece, on the basis of advice from external expert Giovanni Carmine, from Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen. In 2015 this process led to the purchase of 39 new pieces, some of them now on show at the head office. The Committee continues to follow the artists and very often other pieces are bought over the years.
Julius Bär Collection
Interested clients are offered guided tours of the collection at the Julius Bär head office. "Our clients are very interested in art," says Staubli. From her experience, she is convinced that guiding a client through the collection gives them a very different attitude to the company thereafter.
Having had the chance to visit the collection, I can only confirm her thoughts, as I saw how care, passion and excellence can be applied in a financial environment through art, providing inspiration, motivation and creativity. www.juliusbaer.com