Sammlung Ludwig: Art of the Sixties & Hans Haacke: The Chocolate Master
30 September - 5 November 2011
Curated by David Platzker
An unlikely subject for an exhibition, this astutely curated project celebrates two books: Sammlung Ludwig: Art of the Sixties, and Hans Haacke’s The Chocolate Master/Der Pralinenmeister. For those visitors who are reading between the lines, there is much to be gleaned from this many-layered presentation. It offers an array of images from the fantastic and world renowned Ludwig art collection with its concentration of Pop Art paintings. It is an installation that is in itself a visual feast of late 60s graphic design; and finally, the show offers a cautionary tale about private/public museum funding models as parsed by prominent contemporary artist Hans Haacke.
The first publication, Sammlung Ludwig: Art of the Sixties was designed by the artist Wolf Vostell to document and commodify the collection of the German chocolate manufacturer Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene. Produced in five expanding editions between January 1969 and November 1971, this catalogue is highly coveted today in the United States and Europe as a quintessential design object of the period. It is clad in clear vinyl covers, a Plexiglas spine, stainless steel screw binding, and has transparent pages with artist portraits and an encyclopedic content of art of the Sixties as collected by the Ludwigs. The Sammlung Ludwig defines great design and voracious art collecting. The color reproductions within offer a cross-sectional view a particularly seminal period, showing key art works from Germany, the UK, and the US, among other countries.
The Chocolate Master/Der Pralinenmeister, by Hans Haacke and published by Art Metropole in 1982, is an artist’s book that parallels the artist’s unique work, Der Pralinenmeister, produced in 1981. Within this publication, Haacke deconstructs Ludwig’s chocolate empire: Ludwig’s use of low wage immigrant labor; his use of tax breaks and interest free loans to expand his businesses while driving labor costs down and his income up; as well as Ludwig’s use of his collection as a means of garnering governmental [taxpayer] support to service his collection while it was on permanent loan in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany.
The juxtaposed presentation of these two publications not only reflects on the economics and politics of the 1960s and ‘70s but also on our contemporary moment. While Peter Ludwig died in 1996, his style of business acumen and collecting has become increasingly common among an acquisitive class of financiers all over the world. This model of public/private partnership in arts institutions is highly developed in the West, but in India it is a nascent form, hampered by unfavorable tax laws for arts philanthropists. This may soon change, as cultural policies are altered to accom-modate and spur the civic-minded private museums that are clearly on the rise.
“The role of the private art collector is well known. To a large degree the public museums are the beneficiaries and heirs of the private collector. Nowhere is his role more important than for contemporary art. Whatever the qualifications of those making decisions for public collections, imbedded as they are in the rules of bureaucratic order; the private collector can acquire today what the majority will understand in years hence.”
Peter Ludwig, Kunst der Sechziger Jahre im Sammlung Ludwig im Wallraf- Richartz Museum Köln/ Art of the Sixties, Wallraf-Richartz Museum Köln, 1969, pp. 23-24.
“The German chocolate manufacturer and art collector Peter Ludwig once said: ‘The market for Pop Art has been determined by the activities of Mr. and Mrs. Ludwig.’”
Hans Haacke, Hans Haacke: For Real, Works 1959‑2006, Richter Verlag, Düsseldorf, 2006, pp. 154-157.
Note: This exhibition was first presented at Specific Object in New York in the spring of 2011.