Scottish artist Peter Doig's 1999 piece Country-Rock (Wing-Mirror), on display at Sotheby's. Doig is one of the artists represented in the European Parliament's burgeoning art collection.


European Parliament art collection now worth €14 million

The Parliament spends around €10,000 taxpayers' money every year "investing" in artists chosen by its officials. When new countries accede to the EU bloc, a separate sum is set aside for buying works from that country's artists


The European Parliament art collection is today worth at least €14 million – up from just €4 million in 2012.

The collection contains valuable works by such artists as Scottish painter Peter Doig, whose painting Stealth House is said to be worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

The Parliament spends around €10,000 taxpayers’ money every year “investing” in artists chosen by its officials. When new countries accede to the EU bloc, a separate sum is set aside for buying works from that country’s artists.

The entire collection has grown to 600 works. It was founded by the assembly’s first woman president, Simone Veil.

“Forty years after its creation, it is among the most culturally diverse contemporary corpus of its kind. With contributions originating from every single Member State, the body of work seeks to pursue its evolution, continuously striving to incarnate the European motto of ‘United in Diversity’,” a Parliament spokesperson told Brussels Signal.

The Parliament “has acquired 480 representative works of modern art from the EU Member States, with a focus on young, promising artists at the beginning of their careers. It has also accepted over 120 donations, and regularly houses temporary loans,” the spokesperson continued.

“Faithful to Ms Veil’s intentions, the European Parliament continues to add to and nurture its Contemporary Art Collection in accordance with its founding principles. Both young and established talents across the EU are scouted.”

In 2012 the collection, which had no curator, was valued for insurance purposes at €4 million. It is now insured for €14 million, the institution’s spokesperson confirmed, and has two full-time curators.

The Parliament began collecting paintings by Edinburgh-born Doig, one of the best known living artists, in the 1980s, two decades before his White Canoe sold at auction for $11 million. Other names in the collection include Jörg Immendorf, A.R. Penk, Georg Baselitz, and Maggie Hambling.

The assembly rotates works between its offices in Brussels, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg. Some of the best known works hang in the personal offices of the assembly’s leaders, including President Roberta Metsola.

Temporary exhibitions are held in the premises of the European Parliament, to which a limited number of the public can gain access, but the assembly has until now been shy about sharing works with other exhibit halls.

Over the last year works have been lent to the Tour and Taxis site in Brussels — one of the first times artworks from the collection have left the Parliament premises.

The collection catalogue can be found here.

A video on the collection will be posted on the Brussels Signal homepage on March 28.