Thank You, Paine Webber

Hans Haacke American and German

Not on view

Since the early 1970s Haacke has taken on the intertwined political and corporate forces that use cultural patronage as a smokescreen to advance interests that are often antithetical to the vitality of free speech and expression in democracies. Haacke made this work just as the strategy of appropriation—lifting an image out of its original context and re-presenting it in critical fashion—began to make waves in the New York art world of the late 1970s. Like all effective appropriation, it exposes a prior instance of borrowing—in this case, how the investment firm Paine Webber used a documentary photograph to give its annual report the veneer of social concern. The artist then pointedly contrasted it with an image from the same annual report of a beaming trio of executives in a painting-lined gallery. As a counterpoint to the protestor’s signboard, Haacke dropped in text from a different Paine Webber ad campaign to show on whose backs the “risk management” is taking place—a biting indictment, the relevance of which has only increased since the recent economic downturn.

Thank You, Paine Webber, Hans Haacke (American and German, born Cologne, 1936), Gelatin silver print and silver dye bleach print

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2010.416a, b