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DAY 4 I unfold art xchange

© Absa Art Museum

Today,  approximately 50% of Fortune 500 companies are developing art collections and have begun to view art as both a status symbol and an asset, so that the professional development of a corporate art collection is both an extension of the corporate image and a practical financial diversification strategy.

Many businesses and corporations invest in art to shape and boost brand image, as a bespoke collection lends to a company a unique personality. As a company’s organizational identity becomes more certain, it is manifested through its collecting strategies, gaining the confidence of identity to begin collecting through direct relationships with art fairs, galleries, and artists. As an extension of its  collecting  activities, it  may  seek to  contribute to the public wealth through the commissioning of significant works of art and public artworks, and generally contributing to the preservation of emerging cultural heritage.

Dr Paul Bayliss, Art and Museum Curator at ABSA, South Africa’s largest bank under Barclays Africa Group that houses the premier corporate art collection in the country spoke on the Absa L’Atelier art competition. Created to reward young visual artists with unparalleled industry opportunities so they can develop their talent abroad. Absa L’Atelier is one of the longest-running and most prestigious visual arts competitions on the African continent.


Today, the number of private art collectors who choose to house their collections in publicly accessible  museums  is sharply increasing.  There  are  now  more  than  300 privately funded museums world-wide, 70 percent of which were founded since 2000. While only 2 percent of privately funded museums are in the Middle Eastern region, as compared to 80 percent in Europe and Asia, it is a trend which is anticipated to continue, creating a global art ecosystem.

Many private collectors view the development of a privately funded museum as a means of new philanthropy, by giving diverse audiences access to world-class works  of  art which would otherwise be inaccessible. Private museums are often equal to their publicly  funded  counterparts,  offering  public education programmes, high  level  curatorial expertise, and international exhibition programmes.

While private collectors may make their collections public for any number of reasons, these private institutions often fill a gap in a country’s arts and culture  scene, especially where institutional infrastructure is limited, as in many developing economies.

Basel Dalloul, Founder of Dalloul Art Foundation announced plans to build a 10,000 to 15,000 square-meter institution in Beirut, the city’s largest art museum by 2020. This new private museum will house its 4,000-piece Modern and Contemporary Arab art collection. Ramin Salsali, Founder of Salsali Private Museum and patron of the arts discussed the future of Salsali Private Museum, the first private museum in the UAE for contemporary Middle East and international art and how it will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting the art community in Dubai.


Ramin Salsali standing in front of Imran Qureshi's works at Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, UAE © Salsali Private Museum

© Tashkeel

The UAE is one of the few places in the world where the state has both deep coffers and a strong commitment to supporting arts and culture. The UAE contemporary art scene is slowly growing and beginning to consider its long-term future as site for the public display and consumption of art. Private foundations and organisations in the UAE provides both an avenue for the Emirates’ art ambitions and a voice for the different populations that live here.

For private foundations and organisations, distinguishing themselves from a commercial gallery is immensely important to their reputation, and they seek to publicly signal their status in various ways. Organisations often enlist a star museum architect, even for smaller project, which gives the gallery the look of a museum. Alserkal Avenue commissioned Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas to design its new space for commissioned programming, Concrete, and the Jean-Paul Najar foundation had its site designed by Mario Jossa of Marcel Breuer and associates. Deborah Najar also had her foundation accredited by the International Council, of Museums.

Nasser bin Ahmed Alserkal, Board Member and Annamaria Bersani, Director, both from Alserkal Cultural Foundation spoke alongside Tashkeel and Atassi Foundation on how their dedicated platforms are supporting new generation of art talents and creative minds based in the UAE and GCC.

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