Corporate Art Source

Anthony Brass

Corporate Art Source has raised the bar both nationally and internationally for art consulting firms.

Kathleen Bernhardt’s firm has specialized in art collections services for public and private sectors to much critical acclaim. Corporate Art Source has been featured as a cover story for newspapers, covered by the Associated Press in 44 cities, and she and the team have even appeared on television with Peter Jennings.

In addition to significant projects in Chicago, their influence has spread to a national level through large projects in Philadelphia as well. They have had projects and shows at the Museum of Science and Industry and at the Art Institute of Chicago—locations rare for consulting firms.

“This is a real milestone in many art consultants’ careers,” Kathleen Bernhardt says. “I don’t know of any other’s who have achieved that in Chicago.”

Corporate Art Source landscape views

The firm mounted a show at the Museum of Science and Industry in coordination with the French consul general in Chicago. Corporate Art Source was representing a group of French tapestry artists from Paris in the project.

Bernhardt believes that the national and international attention has been garnered through the importance of the projects.

“I think what we did for both the cities of Chicago and Philadelphia—the projects were newsworthy.”

Corporate Art Source also provides inventory and assessment, which leads to another area they provide—discovery of lost artworks.

Bernhardt says asset management often involves taking an inventory, and assisting in lost artwork, taking photographs, documenting and assigning values to it.

“In Chicago we were asked to go through 600 different public school buildings,” she said. Bernhardt and Corporate Art Source found over 100 museum-quality paintings that were lost for forgotten. The discoveries are a benefit to the firm and especially the school or organization involved.

“When you do discover an asset of that dimension for any public sector client, that allows their bottom line to show a great deal more in the black,” Bernhardt says. “And then they can go out and borrow more money, and get more funding for teachers and computers, etc.”

Corporate Art Source performed the same service for Philadelphia, and did it alone.

“My experience has been if you involve too many people and that kind of event, it’s a security problem often. You have to make sure you know your crew, so that when they find a painting worth $800,000 or $900,000, it’s properly documented and doesn’t get ‘lost,’” Bernhardt says.

Bernhardt added, that generally, a lot of the original artwork that Corporate has given or bequeathed to schools and other public buildings—that was hanging in people’s offices—they do have a sense of obsession with those pieces. And when they leave or move, sometimes they feel they have the right to take the artwork with them and often do.

She says that in regards to their experience in public and private collections, the private sector clients ask to have their collections acquired and managed. Their public clientele’s work has been done on larger scale, often involving asset management, inventory work and filling art for their collections.

The Internet digital age has also shaped the way firms like Corporate Art Source does work.

“It affects the way we do business. We had a very large health care client last year, where we placed 432 pieces of art. We presented over 1,000 pieces of art to the art community. It was all done digitally, which gave us the ability to present a lot more work, than if you had to actually show the original pieces.”

She added it has indeed changed for the better. “There are more artists working with digital and video art; I think it’s a lot more current and contemporary than painting, etching or lithograph. So, if you go to these art fairs—some are by new and emerging artists—it’s an exciting field. Computers generate art and helps us present it.”

Bernhardt also owns a new gallery in Sarasota, Fla., aptly named after her. “When we have shows I’m just showing two or three pieces by the artist, and the rest is being archived digitally.”

Just like with Corporate, she says that when someone comes in, they’re able to show them a broad scope of the artist’s work, but don’t have to maintain so many pieces in inventory and have more work hung at all times.

Experts at the Corporate Art Source consulting firm can be reached at: (312) 751-1300
Kathleen Bernhardt can also be reached at the Kathleen Bernhardt Gallery at: