How To

How to pick out the perfect work of art for your office

RBC’s curator explains her process

Two abstract sculptural works displayed atop an overturned filing cabinet.

Valérie Blass’s “Dex assemblages crédible à partir de mon environnement immédiate” (2007), from RBC’s collection

Robin Anthony has been the curator of RBC’s art collection since 2000. She offered a tour of the 11th floor of RBC Centre on Wellington Street in Toronto, where the company displays a selection of its more than 4,000 pieces. She told us how RBC likes “to tell a story with the positioning of the work.”

1. Choose a theme

RBC focuses on emerging Canadian artists, hosting the Canadian Painting Competition each year. (The 2014 winner, Tiziana La Melia was announced on October 1) In addition to a $25,000 cash prize, the bank purchases the winner’s work for its permanent collection. “Even in our capital markets office in New York, we have works by Canadian artists,” Anthony says.

2. The right piece for the right wall

In smaller rooms, Anthony aims to place works that are “easier to look at for long periods of time.” A hallway or foyer is an opportunity to showcase “bolder, more graphic or more difficult work; something you can walk by, but if you stop and take a few moments to look at it, you may contemplate something different each time you see it.”

3. Make sure they know it’s art

When it shows in galleries, Valérie Blass’s Deux assemblages crédible à partir de mon environnement immédiate (2007) sits on bare floor. In its RBC home, Anthony has it on a low plinth. “Filing cabinets historically might not seem uncommon in a bank,” she says. “This way, we highlight the artist’s intention and make sure people don’t leave their coffee here.”

4. Be wild where it counts

Anthony acquired Kent Monkman’s Charged Particles in Motion (2007) specifically for the 11th-floor entrance area. Featuring the artist himself in a pair of hot pink thigh-high boots, it’s one of the racier pieces in RBC’s collection, says Anthony, and a rare item purchased at auction. “I made a presentation to the art committee that we needed this piece to bring the space to life”