Alex Cozgarea is the heart and mind behind the art at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. A photography exhibition about the Internet of Things is up next.
In SAP Germany alone, there are over 2,000 pieces of art on the walls. When walking down the corridor, employees may not often think of who is responsible for these pieces, but Alex Cozgarea is the heart and mind behind the pictures. Alex recently shared the ins and outs of her unique role as art curator at SAP.
SAP News: You have a very unique role in SAP, could you explain what the job entails?
Alex Cozgarea: For the past seven years, I’ve managed the art at SAP. This involves all aspects of art, from finding pieces, to insurance, legal issues and of course organizing the exhibitions that we host at the SAP International Training Center. Art at SAP started in the 1970s when the company was founded. Co-Founder Hasso Plattner is also an art collector and due to his interest he introduced art into the workplace. We have art in customer areas, the corridors, and the canteen. It is all to do with creating a better work environment, making our work place look a bit more beautiful and creating a certain atmosphere.
The collection consists of over 2,000 pieces distributed across different offices in Germany. In the 1990s we also started to host the art exhibitions. I’m responsible for the collection and for the art exhibitions.
How did you get involved with art?
Art has always been my passion. I’m educated as an art historian and art advisor. Art is my life, my philosophy, and my job. I started at SAP in a regional art project and then ended up here.
A lot of people don’t instantly connect art with SAP. How did you come across this?
It is really not that unusual for big companies to have an art collection. Obviously it’s not a part of their core business, which is why many people don’t know about it. At SAP, we have art primarily for our employees, but SAP’s cultural commitment is also targeted at interested customers, partners, and a wider audience. This not only raises SAP’s profile but also raises the region’s profile.
What inspired you to work in the corporate side of art as opposed to a gallery or museum?
The demands are different. In a museum, you are given clear guidance. In a company, you have to really think about your audience and what will interest them. People coming to galleries are already interested in art, that’s a given, so you don’t have to work as hard at grasping their attention. But if people come across the exhibition by chance, then you need to find a way to engage them. We don’t exhibit nice decorative pictures, we like to make people think about the picture and wonder why we chose to exhibit it. We want to create a dialogue between the art and our audience.
How do you approach artists and what are you looking for?
We try to build a bridge between art and business and so when we are finding artists, we try to orientate them with important SAP themes and topics. For example, we’ve had an exhibition about sustainability, which is obviously an important topic, and we’ve also integrated the topic of honesty in business, by hosting an exhibition about transparency. We are always looking for interesting and relevant topics for the employees and customers. I do a lot of research, reading, and looking around to find artists.
One of the nice things about my job is I get to see how the artists work when I visit their studios. It gives me a bit of insight into their lives. We also receive applications every day from artists, who hear about us from word of mouth. And of course we have a lot of artistic employees, who are also welcome to showcase their work in Walldorf and Rot locations, where we have areas specifically for this purpose – although the waiting list at the moment is two years long!
Who are the artists who showcase at SAP?
We have professional artists from all over the world. We do exhibitions for just one artist or for groups of artists. For me, the group exhibitions are more exciting, because you can see the different stances from the artists, there are more points of view about a topic. We have exhibited work from Vera Molnar, a pioneer of digital art, who was the first female artist to develop an art software program, “Molnart.” We’ve also displayed work from Julius Popp, who is an artist who uses SAP software.
What is your favorite piece of art at SAP?
That is a difficult question. I really like sculptures. We have a sculpture from Evelyn Weinzierl and I find her work so impressive. She makes sculptures out of wood, and she starts with a whole tree trunk and then cuts, files and sands them down into these detailed sculptures. It’s not only hard artistically but is also physically demanding work, which I find so impressive. I also really like a piece from Peter Ruehle of a modern landscape.
We have a new exhibition, Thinking Acting Reflecting 4.0, in Walldorf. Can you tell us a bit more about what to expect from this?
This is a photography exhibition and it is about engaging with the subject of Industry 4.0 (IoT for Manufacturing) as we call it in Germany and about the Entrepreneur 4.0 concept at a societal, political, and economic level. What does the digital revolution means for us, what does it demand from us and what opportunities does it open up to us? It will change day to day life, from the way we work to the way we interact. The works in this exhibition offer visionary, artistic insight into the fourth industrial revolution and how we, as a society, can tackle the developments it will bring about. We are showing 44 pieces of art work from 10 different artists in the International Training Center in Walldorf and it is open to the public.