For Hans Haacke, ‘Corporate Philanthropy’ is an Oxymoron

THE DAILY PIC: At the Drawing Center, Haacke bites the hand of donor companies.

MY DAILY PIC (#1562): Sol LeWitt collected this 1976 print by Hans Haacke, called The Chase Advantage, which is in fact silkscreened and collaged overtop of a print by LeWitt. (Click on my image to read the important text in Haacke’s piece.) The Chase Advantage is now in the exhibition called “Drawing Dialogues: Selections from the Sol LeWitt Collection” at the Drawing Center in New York.

Cultural philanthropy by corporations hasn’t changed one bit since Haacke established that it had nothing to do with altruism. A simple test: If the goal were really to help the arts, companies wouldn’t mind making their contributions anonymously. I wonder if that’s happened even once in the last 100 years.

Corporations are supposed to be all and only about making money, which is what we need them for and what they’re good at. (And sometimes they aren’t so good even at that.) What’s sad is that museums, dedicated in theory to utterly different and even opposing values, are still totally happy to get into bed with them.

Here’s a question: By using a “pure” abstraction by LeWitt as his support, was Haacke subtly pointing out the potential synergies between LeWitt’s kind of art and corporate culture? With LeWitt murals popping up in posh lobbies all over for the last decade and more, Haacke’s worries turn out to have been prescient. (LeWitt Collection, Chester, CT, ©Hans Haacke/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; photo by Jody Dole)

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