Hans Haacke (Cologne, 1936) is considered a pioneer of what has come to be known as institutional critique, a branch of conceptual art that emerged at the end of the 1960s. He received his training and resides in the United States. His art moves from pure conceptualism at the beginning of his career towards a more critical discourse in later years. Haacke's pieces question the mechanisms and functions of cultural, political and economic institutions, which serve as active tools in the construction and transmission of identity and ideological values that bolster the discourse and the expansion of globalisation. He constructs systems of relations using literal elements taken from daily life, the critical meanings of which become apparent upon the symbolic collision that occurs when they are juxtaposed. The underlying intention is to reveal, more than to denounce, the relationship that exists between art and social behaviour.
This exhibition is divided into two parts: a selection of the artist's previous works, analyses and reflections on the market and globalisation, in which institutions play a role in altering the economic value of art, thus neutralizing its subversive potential, as shown by The Invisible Hand of the Market (2009). Other pieces, such as Thank you, Paine Webber (1979), Global Marketing(1986-2011) and Helmsboro Country (1990), explore the relationship between art, sponsorship and advertising in the aspiration to acquire respectable corporate images. Another topic is the spuriousness of the institutional discourse, which perceives art as a social lubricant for the acceptance of the current economic-political dynamics, as shown in On Social Grease (1975) or Broken R.M... (1986). The project Castles in the air (2012), which was conceived specifically for Museo Reina Sofía, completes the exhibition.