Hans Haacke

Sol Goldman and Alex DiLorenzo Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971


Hans Haacke born 1936
31 works on paper, maps and typescript with gelatin silver contact prints
Overall display dimensions variable
Presented by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery 2012


This work comprises a map of Manhattan showing the locations of properties owned by the real estate partnership Sol Goldman & Alex DiLorenzo as of 1 May 1971, photographs of the facades of these buildings, documentation of the properties and a list of the nineteen corporations operating them. These elements are displayed in framed sections.

At the time this work was made Goldman & DiLorenzo’s real estate holdings extended throughout the United States. In the New York City borough of Manhattan alone their property portfolio was the largest of any non-institutional body, with a market value of almost $667 million. Properties owned by the partnership included high-end buildings in the Wall Street area and prime residential areas. In addition they included many run-down tenements and warehouses, and buildings in the Times Square area, at the time a sleazy red-light district.

Goldman & DiLorenzo had a negative reputation as landlords. They had been accused of hiring flunkies to physically harass tenants, and enlisted a firm related to an infamous mafia family to help quash a strike by building employees at the Chrysler Building. In addition they had been charged with tax delinquencies and serious violations of building codes that in at least one case resulted in fatalities.

Haacke researched and executed this project alongside a parallel work, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971 (collections of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) that explored the holdings of another major real estate group with similarly heavy-handed working practices. These two projects presented data compiled from public records at the New York County Clerk’s Office. With them Haacke sought to visualise the extent of the corporations’ dominance of the New York property market and to expose the networks of influence in which they played a part.

These two works gained artworld notoriety when, in 1971, they were cited as the reason for the last minute cancellation of Haacke’s first major international solo show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Museum’s director, Thomas M. Messer, objected to the inclusion of these works as well as a visitor’s poll which Haacke had proposed for the exhibition. Messer opposed their ‘inappropriate’ content, stating he felt it was his duty to deflect ‘an alien substance that had entered the art museum organisation’ (quoted in ‘Obra Social’, p.72). When the artist refused to withdraw the works, Messer cancelled the show six weeks before it was due to open. The exhibition curator, Edward F. Fry, was fired when he defended Haacke’s position. In response to this blatant act of censorship artists staged a protest in the museum and many pledged not to exhibit at the Guggenheim until their policies changed.

The work in Tate’s Collection is the second in an edition of two; the first in the edition is in the collection of artist Sol LeWitt.

Further reading:
Brian Wallis (ed.), Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business, New York 1986, reproduced pp.89, 90, 91 (details).
‘Obra Social’: Hans Haacke, exhibition catalogue, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona 1995.
Walter Grasskamp, Molly Nesbit and Jon Bird, Hans Haacke, London 2004.

Rachel Taylor
September 2008

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Display caption

Many of Haacke’s works reveal hidden political and economic links between corporations and institutions. He wanted to show how corruption and injustices were rooted in larger social systems. This work includes a map of Manhattan. It features the locations of properties owned by a powerful real estate firm that had been involved in violent crimes and unethical practices. Haacke wanted to expose the true extent of the firm’s power in the New York property market and the fraud and exploitation at its core. Haacke was included in the groundbreaking Systems Art exhibition organised by the CAyC in Buenos Aires in 1971.

Gallery label, December 2020

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