Menzelstraße 13-15, 34121 Kassel, Germany
Art University Kassel
2001 N 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122, United States
Tyler School of Art
30 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003, United States
Initially, from 1956 to 1960, Hans studied at Art University Kassel under the guidance of Stanley William Hayter, a well-known and influential English printmaker, draftsman and painter. During the period from 1961 to 1962, he attended the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, funded by a Fulbright Grant.
Also, Hans received an Honorary Doctorate from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in 1997, an Honorary Doctorate from San Francisco Art Institute in 2008 and an Honorary Degree from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016.
Since the mid-1960s, Haacke produced controversial, political works, exposing systems of power and influence. By the end of the 1960s, however, Haacke had shifted his focus on another type of autopoietic system, analysing it in political and sociological terms: the art world. In "Gallery-Goers’ Birthplace and Residence Profile" (1969-1970), for instance, Haacke inverted the morals of exhibitive logic and made the visitors to his shows the subject of his work, by quizzing them about aspects of their personal lives and then displaying the results.
In 1967, Haacke was appointed a professor at the Cooper Union in New York, a post he held until 2002. During this period, the artist continued to create his art works.
By the end of the 1970s, Haacke’s work had become more aggressively political and throughout the 1980s the artist required ever-larger spaces to acommodate his "factographic" installations.
In 1978, Haacke had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England, that included his new work "A Breed Apart", which made explicit criticism of the state-owned British Leyland for exporting vehicles for police and military use to apartheid South Africa. His 1979 solo exhibition at Chicago's Renaissance Society featured paintings, that reproduced and altered print ads for Mobil, Allied Chemical and Tiffany & Co.
In 1982, at the "documenta 7" exhibition, Hans exhibited a very large work, that included oil portraits of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 19th-century style, facing on the opposite wall a gigantic photograph of the demonstration against nuclear arms held earlier that year — the largest demonstration in Germany since the end of the Second World War. The clear implication, supported by Haacke's remarks, was that these two figures were attempting to roll back their respective nations to the socially and politically regressive, laissez-faire and imperialist policies of the 19th century.
During his lifetime, the artist took part in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Venice Biennale, São Paulo Art Biennial, Whitney Biennial and others. Currently, Hans lives and works in New York.
"Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions. If you want to put it in negative terms, they are propaganda machines."
"When works of art are presented like rare butterflies on the walls, they're decontextualized. We admire their beauty, and I have nothing against that, per se. But there is more to art than that."
"A liberal public is interesting to have as an audience. It is for that very reason that corporations make such an effort to ally themselves with cultural institutions."
"Museums are not normally presenting the works on the walls as provocations to work. It's more like going to a Jacuzzi."
During Haacke's formative years in Germany, he was a member of Zero (an international group of artists).
Quotes from others about the person
"Much of Haacke’s recent artistic production exposes the damaging effects of the crossover between political, economic, and ideological interests in the creation of public culture. The artist calls for an assessment of what is lost when institutions that were founded as sites for the articulation of knowledge and historical memory are infiltrated by corporate or political interests. The struggle, in his view, is as political as it is aesthetic, and core democratic values are at stake." — Alexander Alberro
In the mid 1960s, Haacke married Linda, his life-long partner. The couple has two sons.