HBS Welcomes New Outdoor Art Installations

Jaume Plensa, Inés, 2013, Cast iron, HBS Art and Artifacts Collection, Harvard Business School
Jordan Kortlandt, Contributor

Every academic year, HBS rotates some of the outdoor art pieces on campus to keep the campus scenery fresh and give students new ideas to reflect upon.  The parallel between art and business is not obvious, but both push current ways of thinking into new territory. Businesses develop new ways of creating economic value while art pushes society to question circumstances and outlooks taken for granted.  Artist James McNeill Whistler said it best, “an artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” The same can be said for business leaders.

Not usually thought of as an art-focused institution, HBS and its alumni are frequently engaged in the art world.  The School’s collection has over 1000 of pieces of art, ranging from the ancient mosaic in Morgan Hall to 19th-century landscape and marine paintings to contemporary art acquired through the Schwartz Art Collection program. In 2018, with support from an anonymous donor, HBS acquired Inés by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, pictured here. It was previously on loan to HBS as part of the ongoing outdoor sculpture loan program.  For those interested in learning more about the school’s collection, The Art Society (a student club at HBS) and Melissa Renn (Collections manager, HBS Art & Artifacts Collection) will publicize and host several art tours this academic year.  

Sculptures by American artists Mary Frank, John Safer and Joel Shapiro are also part of the HBS Art Collection. Other outdoor installations are currently on loan to HBS.  Every year a team of students and administrators work with an art consultant to consider dozens of pieces suitable for our campus and this year, we selected 3 pieces for installation. Two of them are outside Spangler, Aldrich and Cumnock, and are by British sculptor Antony Gormley and Cuban artist Yoan Capote. There is a marble bench installed outside the Rock Center by American artist Jenny Holzer. Capote’s Naturaleza Urbana is a large pair of handcuffs that connect two trees, and the work is meant to inspire conversation about a range of issues, including captivity, fate, and human struggles. PLACE, by Antony Gormley, is a sculpture that explores the relationship of the human body to the surrounding landscape. Jenny Holzer’s bench, which states, “It is in your self-interest to find a way to be very tender,” uses text taken from her Survival series, of 1983-85.

A recent and generous gift from Christian Ringnes (MBA ‘81) will support the sculpture-on-loan program, enable future sculpture acquisitions, and guarantee ongoing conservation and maintenance well into the future.