Hans Haacke (b. 1936 in Cologne) lives and works in New York. His artistic practice is consistently combined with critical, investigative work in the fields of art, economics, politics and society. In the best, most polemic sense, he repeatedly advocates a democratic society, using his works to expose structures, processes and attitudes. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in prestigious institutions, including the Academy of Arts in Berlin (2006), Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1989), the Tate Gallery London and The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (both 1984) and participated in seminal exhibitions such as Harald Szeemann’s Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form (1969). Hans Haacke was represented four times at the documenta and twice at the Sculpture Projects in Münster. For the Reichstag building in Berlin, he developed the installation The Population, which was inaugurated in 2000. In 1993, he received the Golden Lion for his installation in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; and in 1991, he was honoured by the College Art Association in New York for his life’s work.
The Chocolate Master, 1981
Hans Haacke’s Chocolate Master (1981) is a seminal work of institution-critical art which has sparked controversy. It was not seen in Cologne for decades – until the anniversary exhibition We Call It Ludwig in the summer of 2016. The work consists of fourteen printed panels which deal with the interweaving of the art collection and companies (Monheim AG) owned by Peter and Irene Ludwig. The work was conceived for the exhibition West Art (Cologne, 1981), but could not be shown there. Instead, The Chocolate Master was exhibited at Galerie Paul Maenz in Cologne from May to June 1981 (coinciding with West Art). Peter Ludwig expressed his interest in acquiring the work, but Haacke decreed that it should not be sold to him. The artist later stated that he had feared that, had Ludwig acquired it, his work ‘would have disappeared in the basement’. Instead, it was acquired by the Fluxus collectors Gilbert and Lila Silverman in America. Thanks to the generous support of public and private institutions and the intercession of Hans Haacke, the Museum Ludwig was able to acquire The Chocolate Master in 2018.
The acquisition was made possible through the participation of the Cultural Foundation of the German States, the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, the Ministry for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Perlensucher am Museum Ludwig, an initiative of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig.