A thirst for art

Swedish vodka producers ABSOLUT have set up a new art bureau furthering the company’s commitment to cutting-edge contemporary art. Vadim Grigorian, Absolut Art Bureau’s global project leader, tells Artworks about the project

3 min read

Contemporary art is in our DNA and has always been at the forefront of our think- ing and activity at ABSOLUT and, over the last 30 years, we have collaborated with more than 500 of the most interest- ing creative talents, from Andy Warhol to Maurizio Cattelan and Damien Hirst to Louise Bougeois.

One of the things that sets us apart is that we have a small, dedicated team specifically responsible for global con- temporary art initiatives.

We are entirely separate from the ABSOLUT commercial operation and we have brought together a strong, well- respected advisory board and creative council with a brief to collaborate with the most interesting contemporary art- ists on international projects.

We aim to facilitate interesting, relevant projects that may not happen otherwise, giving full Swedish vodka producers ABSOLUT have set up a new art bureau furthering the company’s commitment to cutting-edge contemporary art. Vadim Grigorian, Absolut Art Bureau’s global project leader, tells Artworks about the project creative control and freedom to the art- ists to do what they do best.

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Güiro:: an art bar installation by Los Carpinteros in collaboration with Absolut Art Bureau Installation view (2012) © Los Carpinteros courtesy Sean Kelly, New York/Absolut Art Bureau

Since 2012, we have delivered some extremely ambitious collaborations at major art events, including at dOCUMENTA 13 in Germany, the Grand Palais and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, David Roberts Art Foundation in London and at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Projects in the pipeline for this year include collaborations with Adrian Wong for the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong in May and with Mickalene Thomas in Basel, Switzerland in June.
Last year we also relaunched the Absolut Art Award, broadening its scope to include not only artists, but also art writers. In September, in Stockholm, the award jury will select an artist and an art writer from a shortlist of five to develop and produce their own dream project, with total funding of more than €125,000.

The choice of artist is, of course, crucial to success. When choosing art- ists for collaborations, we look for three specific things which tie in with our own brand values. These are accessibility, a multi-disciplinary approach and practice, and discourse – the ability of an artist to engage with topics that are relevant today.

The other vital component is integ- rity. The art world, perhaps rightly, can be sceptical about brands who engage with contemporary art fleetingly and sporadically. We like to do things differ- ently: our support for and commitment to contemporary art is long-term, genu- ine and sincere.

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