'The collection consists of a verydiverse crosssection of art by primarily Dutch artists.’
KPN will soon be housing its art collection in Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. Hans Koeleman, Director of Corporate Communications & Social Responsibility at the telecommunications company, explains why.
KPN’s predecessors – PTT Telecom and PTT – supported the art world as part of their social policy. Objects for the corporate art collection were purchased over the years. The artworks were then made available to employees by displaying them on the walls of company premises.
The collection consists of a very diverse cross-section of art by primarily Dutch artists. We have very appealing works by Anton Corbijn, Jan Schoonhoven, Marlene Dumas, Rineke Dijkstra, Atelier van Lieshout, Armando, Constant and René Daniëls, among others, as well as pieces made by international artists such as Per Kirkeby, Olafur Eliason and Thomas Demand. We have also collected many items made by entrants and winners of the Prix de Rome [a prestigious competition to encourage young artists in the Netherlands up to the age of forty – red]. On my initiative, we entered into a partnership with the Dutch National Academy nearly ten years ago, and we have supported the Prix de Rome for a considerable period.
Kirsten, Inez & Vinoodh, 1996
KPN owns a number of photographs by the Dutch photographers Inez van Lamsweerde en Vinoodh Matadin. The duo are commissioned by big-name fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and luxury brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Balenciaga for their advertising campaigns. They were among the first to recognize the potential of programs like Photoshop and started to digitally manipulate their models to create surreal, artificial images.
When I joined KPN in 2007 the company had just survived an enormous crisis. As a hangover from the preceding years, there was still a large section of the organization that was occupied with art. There was still a curator, someone for the registry and a department that hung the works. In the years that followed all those jobs disappeared. These days we buy almost no art. The most recent work we purchased is by Marc Oosting and Petra Stavast, winners of our KPN Art Prize, which was awarded during the Fine Art Prix de Rome. At the moment, the objective is to continue downsizing to a core collection.
The company has fewer office buildings, and so there is less space to hang paintings, and most office areas have been converted to open-plan work spaces. We are planning to sell over 1,700 works to our employees. We did this before, with success.
Isabella Rossellini, Anton Corbijn, 1993
In 2015 the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague organized a major Anton Corbijn exhibition. KPN loaned a number of objects in its collection, including Corbijn’s portraits of the singer Björk and the actress Isabella Rossellini.
We consider careful management of the collection to be our responsibility. The issues we are addressing now: what is the core of the collection and how can we ensure that our collection, which contains a piece of Dutch art heritage, becomes visible and
accessible to a much wider cross-section of the general public.
We are asking artists and our contacts at the National Academy for advice about the content of the core collection. They are recommending what we really should keep and which pieces we could possibly dispose of, the proceeds of which we want to reinvest in our collection.
Our collection comprises 3,476 works of art. Currently 1,717 A-works are designated as our core collection. We have 1,759 B- and C-objects that have been earmarked for sale and have indicative values between 250 and 1,250 euro each.
Untitled, Jan Schoonhoven, 1958
One of the highlights of the KPN corporate art collection. Schoonhoven was a former PTT employee and his art was a leisure-time pursuit. He made the relief for the new post office in Delft. Currently the work was placed with the Rijksmuseum on loan.
'The public art depot project, which will set an example for the world with its fantastic facilities, is a wonderful opportunity to engage with this museum.’
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Shortly we will be moving our head office to an existing building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, on the Wilheminapier in Rotterdam. We would like to establish links with the city. For example, the ground floor of the building will be open to the public. But we also want to develop ties with third parties within the city itself. Museum Boijmans Van
Beuningen is the pre-eminent organization for us as far as art and culture are concerned. We heard about their brilliant initiative, the public art depot project, which will set an example for the world with its fantastic facilities. Previously we were the lead sponsor of the exhibition ‘Mad About Surrealism’. It was an excellent chance to organize evenings in a very inspiring environment for our business contacts, consumers and employees.
The development of the depot is a wonderful opportunity to engage with this museum. We will become the depot’s ICT partner and we will house a large part of our core collection in the building in order to make it more accessible to the general public.
Everything’s actually coming together very well. KPN’s head office is moving to Rotterdam, we want to share our core collection with members of the public, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is constructing a depot in which we can do exactly that.
Brick Sculpture, Per Kirkeby, 1990
The leading Danish artist, Per Kirkeby, was commissioned by the company to make a brick sculpture on the occasion of the opening of the then PTT Nederland head office in Groningen. It is an example of site-specific art – large pieces that are placed at buildings. Bricks are widely used in Denmark as a decorative material. Kirkeby made an intriguing sculpture consisting of open and closed wall surfaces.
Supermodel, Marlene Dumas, 1995
KPN also has fine work by Marlene Dumas in its collection. She bases her work on polaroids and photographs from newspapers and magazines. In her portraits, often painted using oils and watercolour, she is not out to create a likeness of the person portrayed but the emotion that moves the subject. Dumas has created paintings of controversial individuals, including Osama Bin Laden, Amy Winehouse and the supermodel Naomi Campbell (shown here).
This article has been published before in Depot Journal #2 which is part of a series of six. If you would like to receive all the printed Depot journals by post, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and address, reference ‘receive Depot Journals’.