From the Corporate Art Collecting Series
By Edward Sheldrick MLitt
Interview with Irene Orati, curator of the Alpha Bank Collection
Alpha Bank is the leading private sector bank and the second largest commercial bank in Greece. In 2001, the Credit Bank merged with the Ionian Bank, which before that merged with the Popular Bank in 1957. Thus, the art collections merged forming the core around which the rest of the Collection was put together. Furthermore, the collections of the Emporiki Bank and Citibank were added in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Today, The Alpha Bank Collection has more than 5000 artworks primarily by Greek artists recounting the cultural identity of Greece through the ages. The Collection contains paintings by artists who have shaped modern Greek art from three key periods. The first from 1880 to 1910 by artists who studied at the acclaimed School of Munich, who still drew their subject matter from Greece, namely Konstantinos Volankis and Nikolaos Gysis. Next, the significant mid-war period characterised by intense intellectual and artistic ideological questioning, including works by Constantinos Parthenis and Spyros Papaloukas.
The third period is the contemporary artistic period after 1960, for example Yannis Gaïtis and Mimis Kontos, with works showcasing new ways of working yet many also offering social and political critiques. The Collection also acquired works by major foreign artists who referenced Greece, such as by Andy Warhol, Thomas Schütte and Robert Wilson. The Collection contains 3000 works by Greek printmakers, from the early 20th century to the present day, who have shaped the personality of modern Greek printmaking. Prints are included by the artist Dimitrios Galanis, a contemporary and friend of Pablo Picasso, who is regarded today as one of the earliest European printmakers to experiment with Cubist prints using wood-engraving and other printing techniques. It is one of the most extensive collections of Greek prints in the world.