Art in law firms: when firms become museums

by irina wakstein

“Art happens”, said the american painter James Whistler, and the fact is that, even in the most unexpected places, it is possible to find works of art of all kinds. Many times we find ourselves in front of great works of art that we do not appreciate, but they are there. Many others, we do not perceive them as artistic pieces or, as they are part of everyday life, we do not give them the value they really deserve. But what would happen if these pieces were part of our everyday life? What would happen if in our working day we could come across some of the most classical and diverse works?

We often perceive the legal world as a traditional, formal world, surrounded by solemnities, books, lawsuits and ancient structures. Today, however, this is more a prejudice than a reality. More and more law firms are opting for modern buildings, technological and digital spaces and, not only this, but they are even managing to position themselves as small art museums where they exhibit all kinds of collections, from classical to contemporary pieces.


Such is the case, for example, of the firm Herbert Smith Freehills which, since 2015, has been hosting a private exhibition exclusively for clients and professionals of the firm “El poder de la palabra” by Carmen Pombo in its palace at Calle Velázquez 63 in the city of Madrid. 

“For some years now we have been alternating this collection with other temporary exhibitions in collaboration with various foundations and private collections”, says the partner responsible for the exhibition on behalf of the firm, Eduardo Soler Tappa, to Iberian Lawyer. According to the firm, the works are contemporary in style and include a variety of techniques by national and international artists, with a predominance of painting, sculpture, photography and installations.

Another emblematic case is Cuatrecasas, which is hosting the exhibition “Function and Fiction” within its walls at Calle Almagro 9. There, with the help of nine pieces of contemporary art, they populate a space socially conceived as aseptic and businesslike in order to invite us to think about the human and functional relationship that we tend to maintain with spaces and objects of everyday use. To this end, works by Andy Warhol, Nina Saunders, Richard Wilson, Caroline McCarthy, M+M, Chila Kumari Burman, Marijke van Warmerdam and Patrick Vanden Eynde are exhibited.

“Our case is rather disruptive,” begins Pérez-Llorca partner Luis Zurera, who has made the firm’s artistic commitment. Zurera continues: “We don’t have an art collection per se, but we place our investment elsewhere, punctually, in our growth”. But how does Pérez-Llorca connect with art then? Precisely, through architecture, as the firm decided to invest in buildings that, in themselves, are pieces of art, explains the partner. Such is the case of the one located at Castellana 50, a building from 40 years ago, designed by Rafael de la Hoz (father), which is an architectural landmark and is studied in all the universities in the country.