New art concept
Swiss Re Next, the new building at our head office in Zurich, is now open and captivates visitors and staff alike with its superior architecture and aesthetic quality. Commissioned art is one of its most salient features, with nine large-scale art installations distributed across the floors. The projects were already initiated at the beginning of the construction phase and were developed and realised together with the artists and expert teams. They are complemented by a mobile art concept that runs under the heading of Cultural Identity, showing the diversity and variety of both the artists and our employees. The two artistic elements offer a unique and bonding experience and at the same time serve as a means of orientation.
Even before planning for Swiss Re Next started, care was taken to ensure visitors and employees would often cross each other’s paths and that works of art at every turn would inspire dialogue among them. This dialogue is designed to arouse interest, encourage new ideas to take shape and help to challenge and overcome set ways of thinking. That's how we intend to stimulate and inspire people in Swiss Re Next in both emotional and intellectual terms.
Follow this link to the pictures and further details on the nine works of art.
Behind the scenes
On a regular basis Art at Swiss Re executes checks for damages on all artworks. We recently restored our "Sloping Progression" concrete sculpture in Rüschlikon, which the artist Sol LeWitt created especially for us in 2000.
Over the years, the sculpture had lost its sparkle due to its exposure to the weather - having acquired moss, lichens, stains, encrusted deposits of salt, and fissures. To restore it to its former glory, Art at Swiss Re decided to thoroughly clean it and to seal the concrete slabs with water repellent. First, specialists cleaned the sculpture with a pressure washer and peeled away the crusts with a pneumatic hammer. Then it was cleaned a second time with a particle jet. Experts filled the large chracks with mortar and injected smaller ones with latex. We made sure there was a break of several days between each step so that the artwork could dry off.
At the end of December 2016, we unveiled the sculpture in its new splendour.
New art concept
We recently installed our latest commissioned art project at our premises in Armonk, New York. Renowned artist, Felice Varini, and his team were on site to install the two geometric, perspective-localised paintings in the Swiss Re Academy building (see picture on left). True to his usual technique, Varini applied paint to the space (including walls, ceilings, floor, etc.). Even though the forms are relatively simple, the complexity of the surrounding space turns the art work into a breathtaking experience.
Would you like to see how it all came to life? Watch the video to hear Eric Smith, President & CEO Americas, and Anne Keller Dubach, Head Art & Cultural Engagement, discuss the importance of art to Swiss Re and unveil the newest additions to our collection.
You can also hear artistic visionary, Felice Varini, explain his vision and motivation for the works of art that accompany Armonk employees on their way into the Swiss Re Academy. Enjoy!
New art concept
The "Residence Polyglot" offers Swiss Re comfortable accommodation for international employees travelling to Zurich.
The recent refurbishment of the rooms included a complete change in the artworks on display. Together with Swiss artists huber.huber, an entirely new art concept was created specifically for the hotel rooms and stairwell of the property.
The two series of artworks "Umland" and "Umkristallisation" (Recrystallisation) are masterfully juxtaposed and link the public areas of the building with the individual hotel rooms, thus creating a harmonious atmosphere for the visitors.
In the main entrance, guests are welcomed by the first large collage from the "Umland" series. Another large-format work hangs in the stairwell, while three other smaller collages have been placed in the corridors of the upper floors.
Both the technique used and the monochrome backgrounds (sky) speak the same language as the small-format "Umkristallisation" works that have been hung in the hotel rooms. The "Umland" collages were specifically created to form a unit with the crystal collages in the rooms, but also enter into an engaging dialogue with them.
The works are not merely aesthetically pleasing; when viewed closely, they captivate the observer with their "displacements" and small "breaches". Suddenly, you notice that the waterfalls are flowing upwards and that the sky has become a landscape. In their works, the artists adroitly defy the laws of physics, leading us inevitably to question our own perceptions.
Asked what they considered to be the most interesting aspect of the project, the artists replied:
"For us, the out-of-the-ordinary hotel setting with its public and private spaces was fascinating. In developing the overall concept, we thought and worked as if we were creating an installation. The form and content of the works are our response to this exciting challenge."
New in the collection
The foyer in historic Altbau – the main building of Swiss Re – is being used as the main entrance until Swiss Re Next is completed. To suit its new purpose, the foyer underwent a number of adjustments ranging from the lighting to the acoustics. The brief for the new art concept was to integrate every element and help achieve a coherent design for the space.
The renowned photographer Shirana Shahbazi was commissioned to develop a custom art concept for the foyer, being the creator of a number of works already included in Swiss Re’s art collection. Themes such as representation and abstraction, landscapes and portraits distinguish Shahbazi’s work, and she recombines them to intriguing effect, now also for the Altbau foyer.
The source material for these works is analogue black-and-white photographs in the classic genres of the art; the images are transferred onto fabric using a special, elaborate printing process. In a second step, colour fields are printed over the photographs such that the two planes are fused into one. The purely photographic elements in black and white add spatial depth to the works while the abstract colour fields provide a rhythmic component. Shahbazi’s art, then, is informed by interactions at multiple levels: her motifs draw on explicit representation as well as abstract form while her creative process plays with the media of photography and painting.
The "Large Giraffe" by well-known sculptor Bernhard Luginbühl has been moved to a new location at Mythenquai. The sculpture had been temporarily moved to the terrace of the Clubhouse due to the ongoing construction work at headquarters.
The distinctive iron sculpture has now been repainted and shines in new splendour at its prominent location on the green next to the Clubhouse, where it will stay until 2018.
About the work
At the start of 2013 the sculpture "Halbe Kugel um eine Achse" by Max Bill found a new home within Swiss Re. Due to the construction of Swiss Re Next, the work – which long held pride of place in the reception foyer at headquarters – has been relocated. Now housed in Uetlihaus – Corporate Solutions' premises in Adliswil – the granite sculpture of the renowned Swiss artist Max Bill is showcased to perfection. Its new position gives us a fresh perspective of the artwork, which also enters into a captivating dialogue with the architectual context and the ever changing light incidence. The interplay between the typical sculpture from the 1960s and the installation finished in 2012 by the young Swiss artist Tobias Madison (*1985) opens up new, surprising perspectives and creates a harmonious spatial effect.
More Information about the work
Art history background
Influenced by his apprenticeship at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Max Bill, one of the most important proponents of Concrete Art, developed an artistic and plastic oeuvre based on mathematical principles, which he was also able to substantiate with theory. In keeping with his humanist credo, he strived to achieve a harmonious union of intellect and sensuousness which would have exemplary characteristics for an appropriate social and intellectual order. "Halbe Kugel um eine Achse" is a successful example of this. Swiss Re's art collection features 44 of his works, mainly graphic design pieces.