From an article by Brian Wallis in the June edition of Art in America:
A corporation's motives for sponsoring temporary art exhibitions are various, numerous and, in many cases, an open secret. In its weekly New York Times op-ed advertisement of Oct. 15, 1985, Mobil Corporation sought to explain (or extol) the uses of art "for the sake of business." With remarkable candor, Mobil listed various reasons "scores of businesses support the arts." . . . These reasons -- various as they are -- all remain components of what is cited as the first reason for sponsoring art: "Improving -- and ensuring -- the business climate."
But what does this mean -- to improve and ensure the business climate? The French theorist Jacques Attali has observed that, as the multinational corporation moves from the status of a purely economic entity to that of a political entity, it must develop a language which is no longer that of profit only, but is instead based on a set of values. . . .
For a corporation to structure and promote a coherent value system requires a certain control of information and deliberate constitution of representations. Thus, the selection of exhibitions, as well as the presentation of them through advertising, press releases and even banners, is crucial.ju . . . T his self-conscious system of representations tends toward cautionary exclusion, the fixing of stereotypic interpretations and the development of abstract rather than historically specific concepts. . . . Hence, the proliferation of tame exhibitions . . . with few direct ties to the social and material culture either of the art exhibited or of the present day.