Promoting art and integrating it into our everyday lives is a part of our corporate culture. We collect works of art from the area of contemporary photography, which we display on our premises, and support young artists by helping them realize new projects.
“Reflections” – the first book about the Vontobel art collection with a text by photography expert Urs Stahel has arrived.
The Vontobel Art Collection has its beginnings in the 1970s, during which time Dr. Hans Vontobel (1916-2016) founded the Arts Commission as a result of his passion for art. From then on, the commission, comprising art enthusiasts among Vontobel’s employees, slowly but surely built up a collection of Swiss artwork.
The refocusing of the collecting strategy led in 2015 to the founding of the specialist unit “Art at Vontobel.” Specialists joined the project and built a small department, which is managed today as part of Vontobel’s entrepreneurial responsibilities. The decision to focus our efforts on contemporary photography from national and international artists ushered in a new era. From that point onwards our interest has been in the medium of photography, which gives both the collection and the sponsorship award for young contemporary photographers founded in 2017, “A New Gaze,” a clear, modern, and future-oriented direction.
Art-loving representatives of the company continue to be a part of the Vontobel Arts Commission and are thus directly involved in the decision-making process. The renowned Zurich photography expert and exhibition organizer Urs Stahel helps to shape the collection and its projects as an adviser. The Head Curator of “Art at Vontobel” is Luisa Baselgia.
A collection of contemporary photography
Admittedly, photography accounts for a relatively small proportion of all artwork produced, but is nevertheless a central, pictorial medium of communication around the world, one which opens up rich and exciting works of art. The camera was originally envisioned as a device that would capture and preserve reality for eternity. Photographers quickly began to use the medium as a subjective means of expression, moving away from pure documentation. The liberation of photography from its classical application began in the mid 20th century with its emergent mediatization, which paved the way towards artistic expression. The breakthrough came in the 1980s and 90s, as the acceptance of the medium as a legitimate means of artistic expression increased and free photography began to appear in art museums and was sold on the art market.
Today, artists use techniques from across the near 200-year history of photography, from analog, large-format cameras to smartphones, screenshots, and moving images. Likewise, the newest technological means of visualization from computer sciences and information design, such as virtual reality or computer generated imagery, are also a part of the artistic practice of photography. Through a variety of methods, pictorial worlds are created using various visualization and viewing techniques, in order to obtain new perspectives on the present. Artists take the time to see, to research, to think, and to question. The end result is a visual work, which offers us an attractive invitation: to consider the artist’s perspective, to be amazed, to discover new things, and to see differently.
The new Vontobel Art Collection gathers works from international artists created from the year 2000 onwards. The focus of the content is on the presentation of humanity and our actions in the present: what faces does the contemporary person wear? What does society look like? What conventions are in place for representing people? How has the image of the person changed in the last 20 years? What influence does globalization have on the images of people? And from another perspective: what do these people produce and how? What actions do they take and how do these actions influence our world, our planet? How do new technologies and accomplishments change the visual world retrospectively? With the decisive, but open question: where does humanity end?
A New Gaze
“A New Gaze” is a sponsorship award for young contemporary photographers. Vontobel gives out the award every two years, each time enabling an international artist to implement an idea for a project from its conception through to the exhibition and exhibition catalogue.
The award is geared towards young artists at the beginning of their careers. Before each call for submissions, Vontobel selects a continent and a topic. With the help of experts from the local art and photography scene, we invite 50 to 100 nominees to submit an idea for a project. A jury decides on the winning project, which the artist can then realize with the support of the curator team within 18 months. The award comes with a grant of CHF 20,000. In addition to this sum, we finance the production, exhibition, and publication of the work. The project culminates in a publicly accessible exhibition at the Vontobel Headquarters in Zurich.
Promoting art has always been a part of our corporate culture. We firmly believe that art and culture are important, even indispensable, agents of a functioning society, which allow the development of experimentation with many practical and theoretical approaches to producing art. We want to support these creative methods of thinking and producing. It is art that affords us a new perspective as observers, that challenges us, or simply delights us. Works of art enrich daily life, enable dialogue decoupled from the day-to-day working routine: a change of perspective. By exhibiting and collecting works of art, we wish to create an inspiring environment with long-lasting value for our employees and our customers.
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