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Spotlight: JPMorgan Chase Art Collection

Mali Anderson

Art educator Baris Karayazgan engages Turkish children in front of Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Sixe Icons" as part of the education program for Collected Visions: Modern and Contemporary Art from the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection at the Pera Museum, Istanbul, 2007. Photo courtesy of The JPMorgan Chase Art Collection.

“Many legacy institutional collections have been integrated into the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, for public viewing in our buildings or to be loaned for exhibits in underserved communities. Chicago is a significant platform for our collection,” says Erich Timmerman, JPMorgan Chase Spokesman.

Holding over 30,000 objects, exhibited in 450 offices worldwide, The JPMorgan Chase Art Collection has roots in both Chicago and New York philanthropy.

When financial institutions split, fold, and merge, so do their corporate art collections. For some banks, collections are divided and sold. Or, in the case of JPMorgan Chase, substantial collections become immense. Now over half a century in age, the collection possesses artwork first purchased by both Chase Manhattan Bank and The First National Bank of Chicago.

Hey Joe (Albers), John Phillips

In 1968, The First National Bank of Chicago began their corporate art collection. When Bank One acquired the institution the collection held over 8,000 artworks. JPMorgan Chase, a firm with its own art collection, one founded in 1959 by Mr. David Rockefeller when the institution was under the name Chase Manhattan Bank, has since acquired Bank One.

David Rockefeller, son of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (the principal founder of The Museum of Modern Art in New York), is a trailblazer in corporate art collecting. He launched The Chase Manhattan Bank collection with a desire to aesthetically match art with architecture and an intent to “provide visual and intellectual interest to nourish the imagination.” At the time, this was a radical approach to corporate investing.

When CEO Gaylord Freeman of The First National Bank of Chicago established an art collection at his firm, he followed Rockefeller’s innovative approach. He recruited the Art Institute curator Katharine Kuh in 1968. Kuh, a respected historian and scholar, worked with Freeman to incorporate art in the workplace as Mr. Rockefeller had done at Chase Manhattan Bank.

Immense in size and scope, the collection includes artwork of all media. Rather than concentrate on any specific time period or style, it instead remains true to Rockefeller’s vision. Everything in the collection, as well as any piece considered for new acquisitions, is visually engaging and carries intellectual importance.

Portrait of Rodin, John White Alexander

One of the first of its kind, the JPMorgan Chase Art Program supports both emerging and established artists. A small sampling of notable artists who have work within the collection include Josef Albers, Romare Bearden, Amy Cutler, Öyvind Fahlström, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, Vik Muniz, Markus Raetz, Faith Ringgold, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol.

Artwork is hung throughout JPMorgan Chase offices and is available for public viewing upon request. Several areas in the Chicago Chase Tower are used to provide art tours such as the Corporate Meeting and Dining Floor. In addition to providing employee access and public guided tours, the organization actively contributes to temporary exhibitions through a museum loan program, curates JPMorgan Chase exhibitions and conducts educational programs intended for general audiences, including family, school and youth programs. These initiatives demonstrate the company’s commitment to providing access to art, creativity and intellectual dialogue.