Projects of the EPO art collection
During the Long Night of Museums in Munich on 15 October 2022, the European Patent Office offerded guided tours of its art collection in the Hackerbrücke building, which is not usually open to the public. Moreover, the premiere of a short film on light art in the EPO took place the same evening.
To mark its 50th anniversary, the European Patent Office is commissioning two artworks for its permanent art collection. Inspired by the Office's commitment to sustainability, the EPO invites artists to submit proposals on the theme of "paper transformation". Applications are open to professional artists of all nationalities preferably living and working in either Germany or The Netherlands.
The EPO has an extensive art collection that comprises around 1 000 works, including 40 site-specific commissions.
As part of the Study Visit to the EPO, Kristine Schönert (Cultural affairs officer, EPO) spoke about the EPO art collection as a cultural endeavour at the interface of art and science. 94 participants from all over the world attended the online lecture, which focused on the many affinities between artists and inventors - be it plain old-fashioned curiosity, an insatiable appetite for research or irrepressible powers of imagination. After all, while a patent protects a unique invention of the human mind, a work of art is the unique expression of a creative imagination. Further, contemporary art consistently provides a bridge between the worlds of artists and inventors. As a highlight, the short version of the documentary film "Exploring art at the EPO" was shown, giving the participants interesting insights into the EPO's art collection. The event was attended by a highly diverse audience including people with backgrounds in fields such as physics, chemistry, law and economics, ranging from students and doctoral candidates to managers and patent attorneys.
Art and innovation meet sustainability in a new thought-provoking book that also features several outstanding works from the EPO art collection: "Art in the Time of Ecological Disruption" is packed with an eye-opening range of international contemporary artworks, as well as essays, poetry and a lively interview with curators. The stylish book is the result of collaboration between curators of corporate art collections around the world. The project’s initiator, the independent art curator Heidi Ballet, has selected artworks that reflect on how perceptions of the self, the other and nature are changing, along with our awareness of environment, climate change, responses to ecological crisis and human resilience.
Highlights from the EPO art collection presented in the book include Magdalena Jetelová’s Iceland Project (1992); Carsten Höller’s Birds (2006); Tomás Saraceno’s iconic Flying Garden (2007), as seen in the entrance hall at PschorrHöfe 8 in Munich; and Martin Parr’s photo series The Last Resort (1986). The highly topical publication is the first to be produced by The International Association of Corporate Collections of Contemporary Art (IACCCA), an inspiring forum for the cross-fertilization of ideas among curators from over 50 corporate collections worldwide.
Ever wanted to escape the crowds and discover some of Munich's less travelled but no less impressive cultural pathways? No matter how familiar you are with the city, you are bound to discover something new with the guidebook 111 Münchner Meisterwerke, die man gesehen haben muss by Rüdiger Liedtke (2021). Added to which, Hannsjörg Voth's cosmic Zwischen Sonnentor und Mondplatz (1992) in the Kurt-Härtel-Passage gets a sizeable mention, as does Max Bill's monumental Rhythmus im Raum (1994) in one of the Pschorrhöfe. Moving on to the eastern bank of the river Isar, there are also short features on Nicolas Schöffer's majestic Chronos 10 B, André Volten's elegant Sphere and Hemispheres and Phillip King's arresting Cross Bend, each created in time for the Isar building's official opening just over 40 years ago. They continue to shape the city's urban environment today, among the other 100+ masterpieces mentioned.
For a complete picture of the EPO's outdoor public art, check out our official "Art outside" guide.
Moreover, for the first time, night tours are being offered on the artworks in the grounds of the EPO buildings. These works will be illuminated to optimum effect as part of a light installation created by Munich video artist Raphael Kurig especially for the Long Night of Museums.
The European Patent Office is now offering Munich audiences extensive insight into its collection of international contemporary art in the German version of the documentary entitled “Exploring Art at the European Patent Office”; after the film, interested members of the public will have an opportunity to put their questions to the curator of the EPO art collection in a live chat.
© Wolfgang Stahl
From its origins to the present day, the article presents the EPO art collection of around 1 000 works from dozens of countries. Vogel explores a selection of the artworks as well as the thematic and programmatic orientation of the collection.
In Art@Five, Annemieke Reedijk (Principal Director Operations, HBC, EPO) discusses with Julian Nida-Rümelin, Philosophy Professor at the LMU Munich and former German Minister of Culture, about the relationship between science/technology and art/creativity. This first-ever digital talk about art at the EPO is moderated by art historian Lisa Zeitz, Editor in Chief of Die Zeit's art magazine Weltkunst.
With galleries and museums closed for long periods of time during the pandemic, attention is increasingly turning to artworks than can still be seen in outdoor public spaces. Franz Kotteder, a senior editor at the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, starts his art walk around Munich with a fine selection of public art in the EPO collection.
In 2020, the European Patent Office acquired a number of impressive artworks by very different artists from Europe and all over the world. They include works by Arjan Shehaj from Albania, Kristi Kongi from Estonia, Philippe Pastor from Monaco, Gardar Eide Einarsson from Norway, Tanja Deman from Croatia, Rozbeh Asmani from Iran, Feng Chen from China and the Superflux studio from the United Kingdom. The decision was taken to single out young, up-and-coming artists from European countries that are not yet represented, or are underrepresented, in the EPO collection, as well as artists whose works explore the nexus of art, science and technology. The works reflect the EPO's cultural roots and the diversity of our international organisation; indeed, art serves as a catalyst for innovation and creativity, but also as a driving force of contemplation and tolerance towards other points of view.
A New Flower Falls Every Day - All Mixed With Daylight, 2020
Oil on canvas
33 cm x 33 cm
© Kristi Kongi
For Those Who Have Experienced The Unforgettable Evenings, 2020
Oil on canvas
33 cm x 33 cm
© Kristi Kongi
The Academy of Fine Arts Munich at the EPO Boards of Appeal START-UP is the EPO's initiative to support young art in a new community outreach programme. Five up-and-coming artists, who are students or graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, have been invited to take part in temporary interventions at the EPO Boards of Appeal site in Haar.
The EPO's commitment to culture includes preserving the value of its extensive art collection through ongoing research and development. This can involve applying highly innovative processes, as shown by an art technology project spanning several years. Watch German artist Rolf Lieberknecht and EPO art curator Kristine Schönert discussing the successful reconstruction of the light installation "Kinetic Light Refractions" 40 years after its creation.
The EPO has been honoured with the Corporate Art Award at an event held on 28 November 2018 in the European Parliament in Brussels in the context of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
Information on exhibitions, projects and awards received around the world by artists in the collection
Using materials from the construction industry such as aluminium and steel, the Austrian artist Michael Kienzer disrupts perceptual patterns and creates subtle spatial relationships. His lively new work "Formfolge Vol. 5" (aluminium, steel; 2021) was on show in Vienna at Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman gallery from 30 Sep to 22 Oct 2021. With this, Kienzer introduces us to another of his shiny metallic works, which often contrast notions of attraction and distance, function and dysfunction, openness and closure, carrying and burdening. His artworks in the EPO collection "Sketch Vol. 3" (2006) and "Chair with Sculpture Vol.2" (2007) also bear witness to the artist’s powers of conceptual design, which in 2011 led him to exhibit at the 54th Venice Biennale.
Images © Michael Kienzer
What is green? Is biodiesel really green? And are algae a superfood or an environmental pest - or both? These are some of the questions addressed in the exhibition gREen: Sampling Colour - Measuring Colour, which you can see in the Muffathalle from 7 to 16 September.
The centrepieces of the show are monumental biotechnical installations, scented portraits of trees and experiments with historic pigments by the artists Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Adam Brown and Thomas Feuerstein. Feuerstein’s work on systems of classification also features in the EPO art collection and a visit to his studio can be found in the film Exploring Art at the EPO.
By foregrounding the complex tensions between art, nature and science, the exhibition in Munich’s Muffathalle provides food for thought on climate action. The artists deep dive into the ambivalent symbolism of the colour "green", with all its contradictions and paradoxes.
Could it be that the notion of "green" is so important to us since it has become the locus of shifts between the natural and the artificial, the healthy and the toxic, the hoped for and the lost?
The work of Jeppe Hein, who is represented in the EPO's art collection with the fountain "Blomsten" (2004), can now be seen at the Lenbachhaus, Munich: his interactive water installation "Action in Space / Space in Action" invites visitors to approach and enter a circular "water pavilion", so that they can experience it as a space or site of playfulness.
Works by Alicja Kwade can currently be seen in the exhibition "A secret show for a secret person in Ireland" at Kunstraum Konrad in Lower Austria. The show deals with the question of how "real" what we see, hear and perceive actually is. In "Stand by", part of the EPO's art collection, the artist delves deep into the substance of things, exploring related questions of visibility and invisibility, as well as the received values associated with such questions.
The Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has been exploring questions of perception, movement and bodily experience for over 25 years. He is represented in the EPO art collection by the artwork "Pedestrian vibes study" (2005, photoengraving, paper). The work's abstract forms represent traces of Eliasson's own movements to different styles of music.
His latest work can currently be seen in the exhibition "Life" at the Swiss art museum Fondation Beyeler. And there's a surprise: the artist has had the gallery's rooms flooded with water. The windowpanes of the museumas well as the artworks normally displayed inside, including those by van Gogh, Monet and Picasso, have been removed and the water from the adjacent pond channelled into the exhibition space. The show can be visited day and night; visitors can stroll through the green aquatic environment on a footbridge and marvel at the water lilies and other plants. Eliasson opens up the museum to nature and people. Blurring the boundaries between museum and artwork, he offers an opportunity to slow down.
Two artists represented in the EPO art collection, Roman Signer and Alicja Kwade, currently have works displayed in the exhibition "Moment.Monument" at the Kunst Museum Winterthur. The Swiss installation and conceptual artist Roman Signer has exhibited works at Documenta in Kassel as well as the Venice Biennale. With "Paddle" (2009, wood, metal), which is part of the EPO collection, Signer creates an expansive installation about the passage of time in space. The temporal dimension of his work becomes a metaphor for change and development. In Alicja Kwade's work entitled "Stand by" (2002, C-print), the artist uses technical devices on stand-by mode to explore the notion of switching between visibility and invisibility, as well as different theories of knowledge.
The exhibition at Museum Winterthur engages with aspects of contemporary sculpture and addresses the question of whether a sculpture serves as a permanent monument or focuses on the moment. Especially since the 1960s, artists have been creating sculptures that break with the traditional understanding of the work of art as a permanent monument, in favour of processual approaches. In this realm between permanence and transience, artists such as Roman Signer and Alicja Kwade are concerned with strategies of narrative and memory that open art to the world.
A work on loan from the EPO's art collection was featured in an exhibition at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany from 9 February to 26 March 2019. The exhibition - a large retrospective of the German artist Dieter Jung - presented Jung's holokinetic mobile from the Office's collection prominently in the foyer of the ZKM.
The winner of the competition on art in architecture, organised by the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, is Roland Fuhrmann, European Patent Office Berlin, canteen.
Katharina Grosse: "It Wasn't Us" (14 June 2020 to 10 January 2021), Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin
Thomas Ruff: "Thomas Ruff" (9 May to 16 August 2020), Kunstsammlung NRW, K21, Ständehausstraße 1, 40217 Düsseldorf, DE