Hans Haacke - Der Pralinenmeister, 1981


Hans Haacke (*1936 in Cologne) lives and works in New York. He always combines his artistic practice with critical, investigative work in the fields of art, economics, politics and society. In the best, most controversial sense of the word, he repeatedly advocates a democratic society by exposing structures, processes and attitudes in his works. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in renowned institutions such as the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (2006), the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1989), the Tate Gallery London and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (both 1984) and has taken part in such groundbreaking exhibitions as Harald Szeemann’s Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, 1969. Hans Haacke was represented four times at the Documenta exhibitions and twice at the sculpture projects in Münster. For the Reichstag building in Berlin, he designed the installation Der Bevölkerung, which was opened in 2000. In 1993, he received the Golden Lion for his contribution to the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 1991, he was honored by the College Art Association in New York for his life’s work.

Hans Haacke: Der Pralinenmeister, 1981, Installation view at the Museum Ludwig © VG Bild-Kunst, 2018, Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Schlier, Britta, rba_d040646 051

Der Pralinenmeister, 1981

Hans Haacke’s Der Pralinenmeister, 1981 is a major work of institutional critique art that sparked controversy and was not shown in Cologne for decades – until the anniversary exhibition Wir nennen es Ludwig in summer 2016. It consists of 14 printed panels that deal with the intertwining of the art collection and company (Monheim AG) of the married couple Peter and Irene Ludwig. The work was conceived for the 1981 Cologne exhibition Westkunst, but could not be shown there. From May to June 1981 (at the same time as Westkunst), Der Pralinenmeister was shown at the Paul Maenz Gallery in Cologne. Peter Ludwig expressed his interest in acquiring the work, but Haacke decreed that it was not to be sold to Ludwig. The artist later explained that he had feared that his work would have “disappeared into the cellar” if Ludwig had acquired it. Instead, it was acquired by the American Fluxus collectors Gilbert and Lila Silverman. Thanks to generous funding from public and private institutions and the advocacy of Hans Haacke, the Museum Ludwig was able to acquire the Praline Master in 2018.

The acquisition was made possible by the participation of the Kulturstiftung der Länder, the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Perlensucher am Museum Ludwig, Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig.