The engagement with the arts and artists has been embedded in Montblanc’s corporate philosophy for a long time. In regard to this, Montblanc began to build a contemporary art collection more than ten years ago. The works from the collection are displayed in the entire co-operation’s facilities: offices, hallways, the production department and, of course, in the newly designed foyer at the headquarters in Hamburg. Regular tours guided by artists and art historians are offered to employees, keeping the art on display alive. In 1998, Montblanc started negotiations with artists and galleries and in 2002 Montblanc presented the first 25 art pieces including one by US artist Tom Sachs. Sachs considered it a challenge to interpret the Montblanc star, the emblem of the long-established company, and create the first commissioned work.
Since then, the collection has expanded to more than 200 unique artworks including works by Thomas Demand, Liam Gillick, Jonathan Meese, Sylvie Fleury, Jorge Pardo, Ugo Rondinone, Michel Majerus, Fang Lijun. Many of the artists were considered cutting edge at the time they were commissioned – in other words, just at the edge of becoming well known worldwide. Today, they claim international recognition and continue a close relationship with the company. To view the brand through the eyes of internationally renowned artists and see it undergo a contemporary interpretation is a privilege Montblanc enjoys, and one from which it pulls new ideas for its own work. The collection of more than 200 artworks is also accessible to the public through guided tours.
“Monkeys made green, silver bodies, long grey tails, hair thins and spray – all flew out of their pink empty vessel” , 2007
Rina Banerjee – References to Eastern and Western cultures mix in Rina Banerjee’s large-format filigree-like material assemblages and detail-rich works on paper. The artist, born in Calcutta in 1963, emigrated to the United States with her family in her childhood years; she graduated from the Yale University School of Art in 1995 and still lives in New York. As a wanderer between worlds, in her work Banerjee explores British colonialism in India, the perception of the homeland and that which is foreign as well as the search for cultural identity. Using everyday materials such as feathers, wire, spices, plastic foil, umbrellas and bright, colourful sari fabrics, the artist crafts imaginative structures that span the entire creative range between the artificiality of intellectual design and the immediacy of organic origins. In her colour-intensive watercolours, to which she additionally applies shimmering materials, Banerjee develops magnificent scenarios inspired from Indian legends, in which beings with overlong nails and flowing hair appear to gently float, prisoners of an exotic environment.
“E.T. From Mercury MB”, 2007
Angela Bulloch – In her complex work consisting of installations, objects, murals, photographs und text works, Canadian artist Angela Bulloch (*1966) examines the structures of perception and functional aspects of social behaviour. Following her studies at London’s Goldsmiths College, the artist, who lives in London and Berlin, first came to public notice in the 1990s with her interactive light and sound installations that react to the visitor’s control. Since 2000, her »pixel boxes«, monitors structured as cubes and arranged as minimalist sculptures whose screens flash a sequence of monochrome solid colour areas, by means of which Bulloch »translates« the chromatic values and the dynamics of well-known movies into colour image compositions, have attracted international attention. Bulloch has frequently participated in the Biennale di Venezia and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997 and for the Young Artist’s prize of the Neue Nationalgalerie (SMPK) in 2005. Her current work focuses on our perception of astronomic phenomena and the solar system, and in »E.T. From Mercury MB« Bullock replaced the sun with the Montblanc star.
Antonio de Felipe
“Retrado de Audrey Montblanc”, 2005
Antonio de Felipe – In her complex work consisting of installations, objects, murals, photographs und text works, Canadian artist Angela Bulloch (*1966) examines the structures of perception and functional aspects of social behaviour. Following her studies at London’s Goldsmiths College, the artist, who lives in London and Berlin, first came to public notice in the 1990s with her interactive light and sound installations that react to the visitor’s control. Since 2000, her »pixel boxes«, monitors structured as cubes and arranged as minimalist sculptures whose screens flash a sequence of monochrome solid colour areas, by means of which Bulloch »translates« the chromatic values and the dynamics of well-known movies into colour image compositions, have attracted international attention. Bulloch has frequently participated in the Biennale di Venezia and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997 and for the Young Artist’s prize of the Neue Nationalgalerie (SMPK) in 2005. Her current work focuses on our perception of astronomic phenomena and the solar system, and in »E.T. From Mercury MB« Bullock replaced the sun with the Montblanc star.
“A Pain in the V-neck”,, 2005
Keith Farquhar – Garment-based installations and assemblies have become a trademark of the work of Scottish artist Keith Farquhar (b. 1969). With his mother’s support for the sewing work, Farquhar, who studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and at London’s Goldsmiths College, combines entire textile items or parts thereof to abstract structures such as “A Pain in the V-neck”. For this collage, the artist, who lives in Edinburgh, gathered V-necks into a stylised face whose nose hints at the shape of the Montblanc Star. With hooded jackets and jeans, Farquhar creates figures devoid of identity, by means of which he expresses societal issues. Thus, for example, he lined up apparently cloned, faceless clothing beings against the wall to question the social role of men. While the human body is explicitly omitted in these clothing sculptures, it is directly at the centre of Farquhar’s more recent works: here, the artist paints or writes texts on his models’ naked skin, then photographs their bodies and arranges the photos of the torsos into two-dimensional sculptures.
Lori Hersberger – The effect of light, colours and spaces, shaped and modified by coloured neon tubes, mirror fragments and fluorescent neon paint are aspects that feature prominently in the work of Lori Hersberger, who was born in 1964 in Basle and lives in Zurich. Hersberger, who has received numerous art prizes, studied at the College of Art in Basle from 1981 to 1983, with further studies in media art and sculpture at the College of Design in Basle from 1991 to 1995. Hersberger stages atmospherically dense rooms filled with a clear, synthetic coldness. Abstract pictures in a reduced palette of colours, sprayed or painted on canvas or directly onto the wall, and large-scale light installations, with a backdrop of acoustic effects and combined with high-gloss objects, mirrors and videos contribute to this impression. In addition to the acrylic on canvas painting made for Montblanc in 2005, Hersberger also created the installation “The Milky Way” – a composition of rope lights, beer cans and organ music – for the Montblanc Staircase Gallery in 2006.
Mathieu Mercier – DIY materials or simple consumer goods are what the French artist Mathieu Mercier (b. 1970) uses for his sculptures, objects and installations. His works forge a link between contemporary mass-produced goods and historic design and art objects from the avant-garde of the early 20th century, such as the Dutch DeStijl movement or Russian constructivism. Mercier’s works reference Marcel Duchamps’ Readymades or quote Piet Mondrian’s abstract paintings, thus encouraging his audience to reflect critically on the icons of art history. For his circular wall compositions, including the piece made for Montblanc, titled “Without Title – Mont Blanc”, Mercier took coloured geometric shapes and assembled them to form animated, luminous compositions which are reminiscent of irregularly cut, glittering diamonds. Mercier, who lives in Paris, was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2003.
Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen – born in Copenhagen in 1963, finds inspiration for his brightly coloured, picturesque geometric compositions in the image world of our daily routine, characterized by pop culture and the mass media. Humorously, Schmidt- Rasmussen combines his colour fields in an energetic- expressive chaos, as is the case in the work he created for Montblanc. Running counter to the formal construction of the piece, Schmidt-Rasmussen, who studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen between 1986 and 1992, breaks up the strict separation of the paint areas by selectively allowing the colours to run into one another. His work is characterized by his personal attitude to life and his immediate surroundings, more particularly by Copenhagen’s alternative Sydhavnen district. Just as imaginative as his abstract paintings are the figurative works in which the artist casts a sophisticated glance at everyday situations to alienate our perception of our familiar world.
“State of being”, 2010
Chiharu Shiota – There seems to be no beginning or end to the sheer, knotted nets Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972) weaves around her objects or with which she surrounds entire rooms and installations. With her fragile structures made of fine dark threads, Shiota, who studied in Kyoto, Canberra, Braunschweig and Berlin, succeeds in making physically heavy objects appear to float weightlessly in the air, such as the Montblanc Star made of Plexiglas in her work “State of Being”. Thus, in their strength and durability these finely woven structures reminiscent of slowly and organically grown spiderwebs appear to triumph over the laws of time and physics. Combined with an installation of piles of books as a place of remembrance or as a stage design for an opera performance, Shiota’s spun works of art are a warning of transience, resembling fragments of memory or sound reverberations, becoming hushed, subtle inner images of past dreams or fears.
“Untitled (ants)”, 2008
Luca Trevisani – “The only way to understand things is to make a small model that can be held in hand, to alienate them from the everyday” is how Luca Trevisani describes his artistic approach. The artist, who was born in Verona in 1979 and now lives in Berlin and Bologna, experiments with film material and installations, creates filigree sculptures from everyday materials, digital photographs, collages and abstract drawings, like the work “Untitled (ants)” for Montblanc, which from afar impresses as an elegant composition around the Montblanc Star, but which upon closer inspection reveals countless small dots that form patterns and are arranged like the tracks of busy and clearly creative ants proceeding according to a common plan. Trevisani, who studied art history until 2003 in Bologna and in 2005 participated in a workshop by Thomas Rehberger at the Domus Academy in Milan and in a Corso Superiore Arti Visive (Higher Training in Visual Arts Course) at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como, invites his public to follow his motto and to discover nothing but the entire world in his works, associatively to delve into them, and, following the tenets of the antiquity, to relate the microcosm to the macrocosm.
“Flowers for Montblanc”, 2006
Wang Yin – The artist Wang Yin, born in 1964 in Jinan, China, views his work as a critique of the commercial art business. He deliberately sets out to subvert viewing habits and traditional perceptions of art. Wang Yin’s works take well-known motifs, subjects and painting styles in art history and provocatively distort them, thus challenging his audience to reinterpret the concept of painting. Wang Yin’s portraits, still lifes, landscapes and cloud pictures are frequently reminiscent of stage sets, perhaps a legacy of his degree in stage design from the Central Institute of Theatre in Beijing. His »Flowers« series was painted in collaboration with commercial painters who specialize in Chinese folk art. Taking turns, the pictures were painted by Wang Yin and his partners – they are the product of a painterly dialogue between fine art and traditional crafts, a collaboration which aims not to produce harmony, but to generate dissonance. For Montblanc, Wang Yin painted the picture »Flowers for Montblanc« and embedded the Montblanc logo in a meadow of flowers.
Heimo Zobernig – The Austrian artist Heimo Zobernig (*1958) questions the »Art System«: using a wide variety of media, he examines the conditions underlying the production and reception of art and the potential presented by the various different artistic forms of expression. The artist, who currently lives in Vienna, started working as a stage set designer in the 1970s before turning to geometric-abstract art and its mechanisms. Following the basic precepts of the Minimal Art movement, Heimo Zobernig developed a clear, stripped-down formal language. He examines the sculptural, artistic characteristics of texts and logos and views art as a form of communication. Heimo Zobernig also perceives the environment in which art is received as part of the artistic process – his works extend into to the exhibition space; he takes walls as a formable mass, he addresses the spatial conditions and sets up »communication rooms«.
Ulla von Brandenburg
Ulla von Brandenburg – This German eclectic artist, currently based in France masters art in whole its complex scenario, using multifaceted styles ( installation, photography, drawing and painting). Influenced by expressionist theater, pre-Freudian psychonalysis and early cinema, von Brandenburg studies and challenges the borders of different consciousness and her artworks are conceived at a point at which reality ends and the illusions begin. In October 2016 she has been nominated for the prix Marcel Duchamp.