100 Things You Should Know About Daimler | #3

Daimler’s appreciation of art is not limited to automobiles

Daimler employees who are interested in the fine arts don’t necessarily have to buy tickets to a museum. In addition to producing automotive works of art made of metal, glass and rubber, Daimler has been building up its in-house collection of fine art for more than 40 years.

The Daimler Art Collection currently consists of about 3,000 works created by around 700 artists. The great thing about the collection is that most of these works are not simply gathering dust in storage rooms. Instead, they are on show in the midst of the company’s daily operations — in front of buildings and inside foyers, conference rooms, and canteens. As a result, our colleagues can get to know a significant section of 20th-century art as well as contemporary works by international artists in passing.

The Daimler Art Collection was born in 1977, when the Board of Management decided to buy a painting titled Ruhe und Bewegung II (Rest and Movement II) by the Stuttgart-based painter Willi Baumeister. In subsequent years the focus of the collection was initially on artists from southern Germany, including the Bauhaus representative Oskar Schlemmer and the Surrealist Jean Arp.

The collection has remained faithful to its focus on abstract, conceptual, and minimalist art down to the present day. The geographic scope of the collection, like that of Daimler itself, has long been extended far beyond southern Germany. Among the most recent acquisitions are works from South Africa, India, South America, and China.

Automotive journalists voted it the “Sports Car of the Century,” and Andy Warhol immortalized it in his “Cars” series in 1986: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe. © The Estate and Foundation of Andy Warhol / VBK, Vienna
Automotive journalists voted it the “Sports Car of the Century,” and Andy Warhol immortalized it in his “Cars” series in 1986: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe. © The Estate and Foundation of Andy Warhol / VBK, Vienna
Cao Fei, “My future is not a dream” (2016). She is one of the most significant contemporary Chinese media artists. The Daimler Art Collection is the first corporate art collection in Germany to build up a collection complex of contemporary Chinese art. By courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou.
Cao Fei, “My future is not a dream” (2016). She is one of the most significant contemporary Chinese media artists. The Daimler Art Collection is the first corporate art collection in Germany to build up a collection complex of contemporary Chinese art. By courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou.
“Lèvres et glace à main” (Lips and Hand Mirror) by Jean Arp, 1927. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart.
“Lèvres et glace à main” (Lips and Hand Mirror) by Jean Arp, 1927. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart.
The cornerstone of the collection: “Ruhe und Bewegung II” (Rest and Movement II) by Willi Baumeister. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart
The cornerstone of the collection: “Ruhe und Bewegung II” (Rest and Movement II) by Willi Baumeister. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart
Oskar Schlemmer painted “Kopf mit Tasse” (Head with Cup) in 1923 while teaching as a master at the Bauhaus. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart. By courtesy of C. Raman Schlemmer, Bühnen Archiv Oskar Schlemmer, Schlemmer Secretariat, Oggebio, Italy.
Oskar Schlemmer painted “Kopf mit Tasse” (Head with Cup) in 1923 while teaching as a master at the Bauhaus. Photo: Andreas Freytag, Stuttgart. By courtesy of C. Raman Schlemmer, Bühnen Archiv Oskar Schlemmer, Schlemmer Secretariat, Oggebio, Italy.
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Art lovers who do not regularly walk through the hallways of Daimler buildings can also view parts of the collection. In the greater Stuttgart area, there are regular tours of the works on show in Sindelfingen and in the Stuttgart locations Möhringen and Pragsattel — and they are open to the public. In addition, the Daimler Contemporary exhibition space in Haus Huth on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin was opened in 1999. On its approximately 600 square meters of floor space, there’s a new art exhibition approximately every three months. That’s one more reason why Berlin is always worth a visit from our colleagues from Swabia and elsewhere — and not only because there’s no admission charge.

The best-known item in the Daimler Art Collection is probably a series of artworks that the company commissioned from the Pop Art icon Andy Warhol to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the automobile. The title of the series — “Cars” — closes the circle that connects artistic automobiles and automotive art. The only things that Warhol printed on the canvases were cars.

In this column, we present you interesting, quaint or widely unknown facts from the world of Daimler. We publish a new episode of "100 Things You Should Know About Daimler" every two weeks.

Cornelia Hentschel

studied art history as well as a number of other subjects generally regarded as unprofitable. However, the first money she ever earned was through art, when she won a lantern-building competition in primary school. The prize was a handshake from the mayor and 200 Deutschmarks for her class fund.

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