Foyer of the new Building on Axel-Springer-Platz in Hamburg 1997
It was clear from an early planning phase that the foyer of the new building on Axel-Springer-Platz in Hamburg should be designed with art on the building site in 1997. After all, the entrance to the publishing house has not only functional, but also representative properties. It should signal to employees, business partners and visitors what kind of company - or better - what kind of corporate style they are dealing with here.
A global company like Axel Springer Verlag AG, the most successful post-war publisher in Germany, faces up to its social responsibility by supporting the cultural and artistic debate as much as possible. The publishing house consequently relies on international contemporary art in the design of its new Hamburg publishing house. The concept with which Samuelis Baumgarte Art Consulting was able to convince the management board of the publishing house is called media tricks. A large, globally active and cosmopolitan publisher is cooperating - that is the concept - with an internationally known artist.
Frank Stella, one of the top artists of our time, designed the entrance hall.
“After we saw Frank Stella's first drafts, it was easy for us to decide in favor of his pictures,” said the former chairman of the board, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Richter. “With their optimistic and dynamic charisma, they represent an attitude towards life that the publisher likes to identify with .
But how much the image of a company is shaped not only by architecture, but also by art, I only found out afterwards - from spontaneous reactions in my environment. On the one hand there was enthusiasm. On the other hand, I also met with a surprise. Apparently only a few had expected that our company would opt for a work of art with an international dimension, for a work that exudes lightness, optimism and speed. Axel Springer Verlag, I learned, is primarily identified with the work of Oskar Kokoschka - the artist who once created two important paintings for the publisher.
However, I have to correct a misunderstanding at this point: Axel Springer's enthusiasm for Oskar Kokoschka in the fifties and sixties was anything but traditional and was not looking for something contemplative. The Austrian artist, although already eighty at the time, stood for a modern, democratically oriented conception of art. This spirit is contained in the pictures, but their meaning has changed: at the end of our century they stand for preservation rather than renewal.
But because history not only continues, but we want to actively shape it as part of this society, as entrepreneurs as well as publicists, we wanted an art for our new entrance hall that does not point to the past, but to the future. An art that opens up intellectual horizons and inspires the imagination. We believe that we have found all of this with the pictures of Frank Stella. At this point, I don't want to judge whether they are "beautiful" - after all, it is seldom possible to reach agreement on this point.
However, it is undisputed that Frank Stella is one of the most important artists of his generation. He was given the honor of two solo exhibitions at the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as exhibitions all over the world - from Osaka to Amsterdam. Although he was given museum consecrations very early on, he never stopped at one style or artistic trademark. driven by curiosity and artistic research, he has tried again and again to expand the limits of his work and to reach new horizons.
With the installation in our Hamburg headquarters, we want to set standards. It is no coincidence that the pictures will be presented to the public together with the new reception hall. In the SPRINGER PASSAGE, which adjoins the foyer, the publisher will regularly show exhibitions in future - on topics from the media, art and culture. We have thus created the opportunity to face the city and the readers of our newspapers and magazines in open dialogue.
If the headquarters of the Axel Springer Verlag was previously a striking, but rather closed building, it should now be accessible to the public with its new reception hall. In addition to the visitors, the employees in particular will be confronted with the plant. For them it may be a symbol of speed, mental alertness and mobility - all qualities that are essential for working in a publishing house. Now the paintings are certainly not intended to fulfill any educational function.
I think you would be ill-advised if you wanted to instrumentalize art in this way. But I am confident that the images will inspire us all. Even during the preparations for the project, the employees involved expressed a sense of joy and motivation that was contagious.
And it was nice to meet a man in Frank Stella with whom you can come into contact spontaneously and work together openly. I was also impressed by the consistency and professional precision with which he developed and implemented his works. What is so bright, lively and apparently confusing to us here is well calculated. Nothing about these pictures is coincidental. I am convinced that Frank Stella's paintings will enrich the publisher. I also hope that they will be understood as a visible expression of the imagination and dynamism of our company as well as of the liberality and cosmopolitanism of the people who work here. "
Photo rights: Axel Springer