The majority of art discussed in the media is, understandably, housed in museums and galleries. But art can be an important feature in the workplace too: many companies and institutions actively encourage its display and build substantial collections of their own. In this new series, Apollo asks people from a variety of sectors to introduce the art they share an office with, how they came by it, and what it means to them.
Thomas Rüschen is Head of Retail Key Account Management at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management in Frankfurt, Germany.
What art do you have in your office?
I have two pieces, both of which are very special and were created by the same artist: an Italian sculptor and painter, Wilhelm Senoner, based in Ortisei, Val Gardena.
How did you first meet the artist?
I was on holiday in the area a few years ago and happened upon the studio. Wilhelm creates sculptures that are very imposing: rough hewn from a variety of materials, and many are life-size. I was instantly attracted to one piece – a sculpture of a man with a cigar and a bit of a belly. It made me laugh as it brought to mind an old-fashioned banker, and I told Wilhelm as much.
Did you buy the piece on sight?
I didn’t – Wilhelm was amused by the association and sculpted another piece for me, exaggerating the characteristics that were so evocative of a private banker. The piece in my office was created from two separate pieces of wood and then brushed with the red colour you see today.
What about the other piece?
It’s a painting, also by Wilhelm. Wilhelm and I have become very good friends over the years, so he wanted to see the sculpture in my office. When he visited, he decided that the blank wall wouldn’t do and painted this work to complement the sculpture. It shows the image of the sculpture, brings out the red of the wood – but the vibrant use of purple makes it very warming.
What have been the reactions to the art in your office?
Together, they are very eye-catching and almost every first-time visitor to my office comments on the art! It is a great icebreaker. Once a former member of the Deutsche Bank board visited and commented that I must be on close terms with the DB art department to be so spoilt! I reassured him that there was no nepotism involved – merely a fortunate friendship.
So you and Wilhelm have become friends?
Yes – we’ve had a great rapport from the beginning and have developed a friendship over the years. My wife and I have tried to support him as well: we’ve hosted a private viewing where our home stood in for a gallery – Wilhelm sold quite a few works that evening. We’ve also introduced him to the owners of a hotel we visit every year, who have commissioned a number of works – we try to support him wherever we can.
Wilhelm Senoner is based in Ortisei, Val Gardena.