Working with art
Works of art accompany Munich Re staff, clients and guests not only in corridors, foyers, conference rooms, offices and meeting points, but even in stairwells and underground passages. Current artistic positions and themes of contemporary art are displayed in temporary exhibitions. At events too, art stimulates conversation, shows different perspectives and provides new impetus. The Munich Re Art Collection comprises more than 3,000 works by international artists – from paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures, all the way to architectural installations.
It is Munich Re’s intention and motivation to integrate the diversity of forms of artistic expression into the work environment. The collection is constantly being expanded with contemporary artworks, including, in particular, works by young contemporary artists.
It all began in 1912/13 with the construction of the Main Building at Königinstrasse in Munich. Besides having a keen instinct for insurance, Carl von Thieme, the founder of Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (Munich Re), also had an equally sophisticated taste for the art of his time. Thieme commissioned artists from the region to create works for the new company’s headquarters. To this day, the roughly 20 sqm fresco by Reinhold Max Eichler depicting the dramatically staged Kampf der Elemente (Battle of the Elements) still makes an impact in the staircase leading from the entrance area. The listed building’s Main Conference Room was also decorated with murals that make reference to the tasks and risks of insurance. As do the four life-sized sculptures by Josef Wackerle and Ernst Geiger in the portico of the neoclassical building, which, as personifications of the four elements, make reference to the core business of the still young company.
With Munich Re’s development into a globally operating Group, the art has also become more international. Without setting any specific thematic or formal focus, since the mid-1990s the Munich Re Art Collection’s approach to collecting has followed the current trends in international contemporary art.
Art and architecture
For Munich Re, the link between art and architecture is of great importance and a key component of the collection profile – and not only in its early days. As the Company grew, new possibilities for dialogue between art and architecture continually opened up. To date, more than 60 site-specific artworks have been created. Even underground.
Artists were invited to develop concepts in situ for the more than 1,000 metres of branching underground passageways that connect the office buildings in Schwabing between Königinstrasse and Leopoldstrasse with each other. The light installations created by Angela Bulloch, Roland Burkart, Maurizio Nannucci, Keith Sonnier, James Turrell and Rolf Walz, among others, make daily movements through the buildings an inspiring experience, as do the expansive installations by Ecke Bonk, Jenny Holzer, Peter Kogler, Aribert von Ostrowski and Felice Varini in the stairwells, or the more than 400 sqm photo installation by Katharina Gaenssler in the conference centre.
Munich Re also sets trends outdoors, for example on the forecourt of the office building on Leopoldstrasse. The 17-metre-high Walking Man sculpture has stood here since 1995. Jonathan Borofsky designed what has since become the Munich Re Art Collection’s best-known artwork specifically for that location. At Münchner Tor, Roland Fischer’s Kubus im See defines the architectural ensemble and, in the immediate vicinity of the English Garden, the stainless steel sculpture Discrepancy by Roxy Paine marks the entrance to the Mandlstrasse office building.