Art Curator Lianne Schipper has an unusual, but very satisfying job with a financial services group: she curates Aegon’s 1,100-piece art collection, most of which hangs in our offices. ‘We aim to inspire – but art doesn’t have to be aesthetically beautiful to fulfill its purpose.’
From horrendously ugly to a masterpiece, and a thousand opinions in between: that is how people judge art. Aegon employees are no different, and our offices are filled with over a thousand pieces of contemporary art – paintings, photography, sculptures, video and mixed media. Most of the pieces are in Netherlands, with others on display in other offices around the world.
Lianne's job is to curate the art collection, which means that she uses her expertise to select art pieces for her colleagues, or visitors to Aegon's offices, to view and reflect upon.
Debate and diversion
Selecting art for a department is usually done in cooperation with the team that will use the space. Lianne: 'You hear incredible discussions on what people love, why they dislike a certain piece, what they see in a painting or even what they feel when looking at a sculpture, for example. I love that, and usually learn a lot. It's a mistaken belief that art needs to be beautiful: ugly art is infinitely fascinating, since it creates debate and even diversion. Taking a break from work to look at a painting is like taking a mini vacation.'
This ties directly into the reason Aegon buys and sells art. Hint: it's not for investment purposes. 'Art inspires debate and creativity; helps people view things in a different light. Studies prove that art even increases productivity for office workers. Even compared to plants, art pieces are an excellent addition to the workplace.' By purchasing art, Aegon also supports young, up-and-coming artists.
Lianne's main focus is purchasing art that touches on themes that reflect Aegon's purpose: helping people achieve a lifetime of financial security. She also seeks to ensure that communities where Aegon is active also comes into the picture.
For instance, Aegon recently purchased of a drawing by Amsterdam-based artist Tom Heerschop. The piece (shown below) is the first in a series called 'Never ending drawing', in which every new drawing starts with elements from the former piece.
'Never ending drawing #1' by Tom Heerschop, 2017,mixed media on paper, 95 x 160 cm. Photo: Henni van Beek
Impact of corona
Although most of Aegon's offices are currently closed due to the coronavirus, Lianne's work continues. 'Artists and sellers have come up with ingenious digital ways so I can still scout for new talent, and luckily we are now again able to visit museums and galleries that apply stringent COVID-19 regulations. Personally, I've also taken to buying "Pakje Kunst" (art package), which is a unique art piece the size of a pack of cigarettes for just EUR 5. It's another example of the ingenious ways that artists think and work. Inspiring Aegon's innovative mindset in equal measure, is the role art plays for us.'