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Seurat's 'Les Poseuses' (small version) 1888 - 1975



Hans Haacke

Currently not on display
Acquired in 1978
Inventory number 799

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 3400 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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This work by the German artist Hans Haacke consists of a colour reproduction of Georges Seurat’s painting 'Les Poseuses' and 14 sheets of information about the people and companies which owned this painting consecutively. Each sheet states the name of the owner, where possible illustrated with a photograph, and to the extent that this is known, the year in which the work was acquired, how it was acquired (in a sale, as a gift, at auction, inheritance, etc.) and for what sum. This is followed by data which provide an insight into the background, training, social career and interest in art of the person concerned or information about the company. The first owner was the maker of the work, the French painter Georges Seurat. The fourteenth, and up to then the last owner, was an art dealer who gave the work on loan to the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

From the early 1960s Haacke made sculptures and installations in which he investigated physical and biological processes in an attempt to erase the divisions between art and life as far as possible. In the late 1960s, his working field shifted to exposing mechanisms at work in the political, economic and social fields. He tried to stimulate a critical awareness in the public by artistic means “so that they (the people) may start to think that some things can no longer happen while other things can.” Haacke did not see any point in art which exclusively had artistic value and he wanted to raise a debate about existing systems by imitating them in an undermining way.

The mechanisms which are at work in the art world are also dealt with in Haacke’s work. In Seurat’s 'Les Poseuses 1888-1975' he revealed the history of his artwork without saying anything about the artistic significance of the painting, but focused on the status of the respective owners, the increasing financial value of the artwork and its eventual recognition as a museum piece. He confronted the public which information which usually remains behind the scene and presented it beautifully framed, just like real art.