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 Hans Christoph Haacke  (1936 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / Germany      Known for: conceptual, calligraphy, graphics

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Hans Haake is primarily known as Hans Christoph Haacke

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Hans Christoph Haacke
An example of work by Hans Haake
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Hans Haacke is a sculptor and conceptual artist born in 1936 in Cologne, Germany, who now lives and works in New York City.  Haacke was educated at the Staatl Werkakademie in Germany, 1956-60, Atelier 17, and the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1961-62 on a Fulbright Fellowship.  He became an instructor at Cooper Union in New York.

His highly political art has taken many forms over the years. In one work, he traced ownership of a particular painting to catalogue the rise in value of the work of art and bring into question the motives and function of buying art.  He was outspoken about his beliefs that museums and galleries were often used by the wealthy to seduce public opinion.

One of his most well-known works, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real-Time Social System as of May 1, 1971 (1971), exposed the malpractice of Harry Shapolsky's real-estate business and caused Haacke's April 1971 exhibition at the Guggenheim to be cancelled.

In Mobilization (1975), he created "advertisements" that mocked the major oil company's position on political issues and the role that art played in Mobil's public relations promotions.

In 1990, Haacke continued to make controversial art with his Cowboy with Cigarette piece that protested corporate sponsorship of museums, particularly the Phillip Morris company and the Museum of Modern Art which turned Picasso's Man with a Hat (1912-13) into a cigarette advertisement.

A 2005 New York gallery exhibition reviewer, Holland Cotter, said of his conceptual work, State of the Union, that: "Obviously there is a message in all of this, something about a nation torn, a public office in ruins, an economy built on specters.  Mr. Haacke says nothing flat-outm but he speaks a language anyone can understand."

Hans Haacke published a book about the ideas and processes behind his and other conceptual art called Framing and Being Framed.  He continued to produce provocative, highly political, conceptual pieces and environmental art such as using flowing water and freezing cycles to build snow and ice configurations.

Hans Haacke received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, and the Venice Biennale.

His work is in the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Sources include:

Les Krantz, American Artists, Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporary Artists
Holland Cotter, "Hans Haacke", The New York Times, 12/16/2005, B 36
The Encyclopedia Britannica of American Art

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