As a student, I struggled to choose between law and art history. Eventually I decided on the latter, despite assuming it would be much harder finding permanent employment. Fortunately, though, that was never the case for me. I’ve always firmly believed that things will turn out well if you’re doing what you love. With this mindset, I’ve worked in the art world for twenty years and trained as a curator. I’ve held a variety of jobs: after working at a centre for contemporary art and a gallery, as an art adviser to the Dutch government and as a freelance curator, I was appointed curator of the ABN AMRO Art Collection. It’s a very special job, one which has absolutely nothing to do with banking products!
Art raises questions. It is a source of inspiration and holds up a mirror to society. It also draws the outside world into a corporate environment.
Danila Cahen Curator, ABN AMRO Art Collection
Supporting the cultural sector
ABN AMRO has a long tradition of involvement in the art world, and its own art collection is nearly forty years old. Jan Roelof van den Brink, Chairman of the Managing Board back in 1977, started the collection based on the idea that the bank’s branches would be that much more appealing if real works of art were on display there. My own feeling is that besides improving an interior, art raises questions. It is a source of inspiration and holds up a mirror to society. It also draws the outside world into a corporate environment. The bank believes that art and culture are very important to society and is committed to supporting them. One way it supports the Dutch cultural sector is by acquiring works by artists who have a connection with the Netherlands.
Contemporary art is both my passion and my area of expertise. I love working with living artists because they show you the world in a new and often surprising way. They keep you sharp and young at heart. In my job, it’s important to stay closely connected with the art world. I also happen to spend a lot of my free time viewing art, which means I’m able to stay informed of all the latest developments in the art world. My job entails, amongst other things, making exhibitions with work from the collection, acquiring works of art and fully overseeing the ABN AMRO Art Award, an incentive award for artists which is a component of the Partner of the Future programme.That involves everything from selecting the jury to putting on an exhibition of the winner’s works at the Hermitage in Amsterdam.
A diverse cross-section of the public outside the museum
I enjoy being involved in art outside the confines of the museum. Earlier in my career, for example, I worked as a visual arts consultant for the government, advising on matters relating to art in public space. And that’s what I now do at the bank as well. The best thing about my job is that it lets me reach a broad cross-section of the general public. In my case, that includes visitors to the bank and ABN AMRO employees and clients, but also society though our many public presentations. My goal is to get people excited about contemporary art, and about all the special works in the ABN AMRO art collection. And I love doing this every single day!