An analysis of the vanguard artist's politically and formally trailblazing art.
Born in Cologne in 1936 and based in New York since 1965, Haacke's strong political, cultural and social concerns are reflected in his installations, texts and sculptures. Throughout his fifty-year career Haacke has frequently changed the presentation of his art to get his message across. Often borrowing from non-art sources such as corporate advertising, questionnaires or scientific experimentation, Haacke is probably the most successful and best-known late twentieth-century artist to create a political art that manages to hit its mark with succinct elegance. Haacke sometimes works almost as a sleuth-like reporter, uncovering museum politics in his art.
This practice has famously led on occasion to museum officials cancelling his exhibitions. For example, his 1971 one-person show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was cancelled in response to his proposal to present the questionable real estate dealings of several New York companies. Though he began as a painter in the late 1950s, Hans Haacke soon began to make works such as Raintower (1962) which drew on natural energies and forces. Subsequent works, for example the opinion-based MOMA-Poll (1970), encouraged active audience participation. The artist is particularly admired for his research into the art world's hidden economies and politics, as well as into repressed histories of places and people. The resulting artworks (such as his project for the Reichstag in Berlin, Der Bevolkerung [To The Population, 1999]) have often drawn immense controversy. Haacke is a unique figure in post-war art, and his work has touched on such diverse movements as Conceptual, Pop, Minimal and Land art.
His integrity as well as the formal innovations of his art have proven hugely influential for many generations of contemporary artists. Haacke has presented solo exhibitions in such museums as the Tate Gallery, London (1984); the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and tour (1986); and the Musee nationale d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1989), among others.
About the Authors
Walter Grasskamp is a critic and art historian and is Professor of Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He has written on Haacke for his exhibitions at the Tate Gallery, London (1984) the Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona (Obra Social, 1995) and the German Pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale (1993).
Molly Nesbit is Professor in the Department of Art at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, and is author of Atget's Seven Albums (1992) and Their Common Sense (2000). She has received numerous awards, notably from the Guggenheim Foundation (1991) and the J. Paul Getty Trust (1988 and 1992).
In 2003 she co-curated 'Utopia Station' at the 50th Venice Biennale. Jon Bird is Professor of Art and Critical Theory at Middlesex University, London, and an independent curator and writer on contemporary art and visual culture. Among the exhibitions he has curated are the Leon Golub retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and tour (2000) and a major exhibition on Nancy Spero and Kiki Smith for the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2003).
'The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum) 'The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art.' (Time Out) 'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (The Sunday Times) 'Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment.' (The Art Book)
Series: Contemporary Artists (Phaidon)
Number Of Pages: 160
Published: 30th June 2004
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 29.0 x 25.0 x 1.6
Weight (kg): 1.0
Edition Number: 1