Hans Haacke

Der Bevölkerung

In 1998 Hans Haacke was invited by the German Parliament (Bundestag) to propose a concept for a work that would fill the northern courtyard of the Government building (Reichstag) in Berlin. In 1999, after heavy political and public discussions, Haacke’s suggestion was passed in the German parliament with 260 against 258 votes. The work consists of a 21 x 7 meters large cast installed in the centre of the courtyard. In the middle the word DER BEVÖLKERUNG (the population) is written with lit neon letters. On instructions from Haacke the caste was and is still being filled with earth that is brought by parliament representative from each constituency in Germany. Today the neon letters are surrounded by randomly growing vegetation. DER BEVÖLKERING refers to the inscription, DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE (to the German people) from 1916 on the west portal of the Parliament building. Haacke uses for his work the same font (created by Peter Behrens) as the the1916 inscription. The political resistance against Haacke’s work came very strongly in particular from the side of the CDU (Christian democrats). Haacke was accused that the neon letters and their reference to a play of definition with the words “Bevölkerung” and “Volk”, questioned and undermined the relationship between the German government and the German people and that his work thereby was conflicting with the German constitution itself. DER BEVÖLKERING was in 2006 made object of public discussion after Haacke forbade a reproduction of the work on a private web site and thereby started a general debate about artist’s rights in relation to (reproduction of) their works. According to the German law Haacke on the one hand had no right to control whether and where his work was reproduced because the work was not placed in the public space; the courtyard of the Reichstag building is as well as the Reichstag itself not defined as public space. On the other hand Haacke has by law fundamental rights as author that are effective no matter where the work is placed. The matter is still being discussed to this day and Haacke has entered negotiations to buy the right to reproduce DER BEVÖLKERUNG in the Internet. DER BEVÖLKERUNG can be followed live all year in the Internet via a camera installed in the courtyard (www.derbevoelkerung.de). Haacke sanctions this presentation.

Hans Haacke
Born 1936 in Cologne/D, lives and works in New York, USA

Solo exhibitions

wirklich – Werke 1959-2006, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, curated by Robert Fleck and Matthias Flügge, Germany 2006-2007

Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2001

Portikus, Frankfurt/Main, 2000

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1996

Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, 1995

Germania, German Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 1993

Musée nationale d’art moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1989

Kunsthalle Bern, 1985

Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, 1984

Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 1979


Group exhibitions

Kritische Gesellschaften: Kunst, Kritik und die Versprechen des Kapitalismus, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 2005

Berlin-Moskau, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2003, traveled to Historical Museum, Moscow, 2004

Documenta X, Kassel, 1997

Skulptur-Projekte in Münster 1997, Münster, 1997

Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1995

Art & Publicité, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1990

Magiciens de la terre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1989

The Artist as Social Critic, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1986

Sao Paulo Biennale, Sao Paulo, 1985

5th Biennale of Sydney, 1984

documenta 5, Kassel, 1972

Tokyo Biennale '70, 1970

Prospect 69, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1969


Hans Haacke, wirklich, contributions by H. Haacke, M. Fl¸gge and R. Fleck, Akademie der K¸nste Berlin, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Richter Verlag, D¸sseldorf 2006

Idea. Arts + society, Cluj-Napoca. Nr. 18, 2004, contributions by C. Greenberg, J. Angel, M. Babias, E. Said, A. Horvath, D. Vais, A. Breitwieser et al.

Public space – public art, contributions by K. Bussmann, W. Grasskamp, C. Grunenberg, M. Diers, G. Stemmrich, H. Haacke, B. Ecker, T. Huber, F. Meschede, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster Landesinitiative StadtBauKultur NRW (pub.), Walter König, Cologne, 2003

Hans Haacke, Mia san mia, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Verlag der Kunst, Dresden, 2001

Der Bevˆlkerung, contributions by H. Haacke, M. Fl¸gge et al.., published by K. Kˆnig and M. Diers, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Walther Kˆnig, Cologne 2000

Evictions. Art and Spatial Politics, R. Deutsche, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England 1998.

Hans Haacke. Volume II. texts by Haacke, Hans. Van Abbemuseum; The Tate Gallery. Eindhoven/London 1984.