April 2020 - Interview with Concept artist Jan Kuck and Generali

ARTE Generali and Jan Kuck: On burning questions and art as a mirror of society

Conceptual artist Jan Kuck and ARTE Generali got to the bottom of the burning questions of motivation, drive and passion with the artwork "The Burning River". At the beginning of March, the light installation on the Isar in Munich was broadcasted worldwide via livestream. In the interview, he gives insights into the creation of the installation and talks about mutual relationships between art and business. Kuck also explains why it is our job to make art accessible and to protect it for everyone. With this ambition, Generali Deutschland supports national and international art projects, exhibitions and artists with its art insurer, ARTE Generali.

“The Burning River” project emerged with the support of ARTE Generali. What is the idea behind it and what does it mean for you?

I've been thinking for a long time about how to use light in the city for art installations. Most of the time, light is projected onto houses or bridges, but I wanted to illuminate the water because the rivers are like the main arteries of cities for me. Nowadays everything changes faster, is short-lived and I asked myself what is the basis on which we make decisions? It should be what you're passionate about. With the question "What are you burning for?" we made a lot of people think about that in a playful way.

"Art is always a mirror of society" - Jan Kuck

What role does technological innovation play in art?

Art moves with time, therefore technology will play an increasingly important role in the future. However, technology should only be supportive and never take over the main part and thus cannot replace art. Nevertheless, as the example of the Arte Generali app shows, it can assist art collectors with assistance services.

ARTE Generali launched the campaign "Great artists steal" with Maurizio Cattelan and Oliviero Toscani last year. What do you associate with this sentence?

Yes, of course that's very provocative and a successful campaign. As an artist, you should always be inspired by everything and create something new from what you see. With the campaign, the two artists set an important example: the high value of art must be protected.

In 2015 your exhibition “Who Cares? Social Responsibility in Contemporary Art” dealt with social responsibility - a topic of great importance in the Generali.

Social responsibility is also very important in art. On the one hand, because art always mirrors the time and on the other hand artists now have more opportunities and freedoms to express themselves critically to society than they had in the past. They can draw attention to grievances, conflicts or resistances and thus stimulate people to reflect on their actions. In my opinion, art should be a kind of dialogue between the artist and the viewer.

To what extent is it important that companies support art and what can art and culture bring to a company in return?

I find symbioses of this kind very important. Everyone can learn from the mutual relationship, both artists and companies. Art is there for everyone and should be a kind of basic value for all people. At the same time, the change of perspective opens up new methods, non-professional approaches, aspects and gives food for thought. Artists benefit equally from a strong partnership: without Arte Generali, for example, it would not have been possible to implement a project like “The Burning River”.

"For me, art is philosophy that starts where words alone are no longer sufficient to ask the really disruptive, burning and important questions" - Jan Kuck

Jan Kuck is currently advocating "Art Thinking". In this concept art is combined with science and business and serves as a creative engine and accelerator of innovation. Progress and clever ideas succeed much faster if you work together in an interdisciplinary manner. In this way, Generali also keeps getting new thought-provoking impulses through partnerships like these and remains open to creative ways.

  1. © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt

    © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt

  2. © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt

    © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt

  3. © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt

    © Jan Kuck and impressions "The Burning River" 2020, Felix Rodewaldt