Hans Haacke

Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971

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9 photostats, 142 gelatin silver prints, and 142 photocopies

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Purchased jointly by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York with funds from the Director's Discretionary Fund and the Painting and Sculpture Committee, and the Fundació Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

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© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

A landmark work of institutional critique, Hans Haacke’s Shapolsky et al Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System as of May 1, 1971 chronicles the fraudulent activities of one of New York City’s largest slumlords over the course of two decades. The work comprises 146 photographs of Manhattan apartment buildings, mostly tenements; maps of Harlem and the Lower East Side; photographs and charts documenting real estate transactions; and texts with information about the location, ownership structure, and financial histories of the buildings. Haacke culled all of his data from the public record, adapting a neutral presentational style that resembles various contemporaneous projects in Conceptual art. Shapolsky et al. was to be part of the artist’s solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in the spring of 1971, but the show was cancelled six weeks before its scheduled opening.


  • America Is Hard to See

    Hans Haacke, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social system, as of May 1, 1971, 1971

    Hans Haacke, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social system, as of May 1, 1971, 1971


    Donna De Salvo: I’m Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

    In this work, Haacke used existing, public records to construct the history of a series of buildings owned by a single family. One hundred and forty-six photographs, maps of Harlem and the Lower East Side, where these properties were located, and charts documenting the real estate transactions over the period of ownership of these works.

    In many ways, it’s a highly objective document, in that it puts forward a series of facts about these various properties, owned by a real estate, owned by a landlord who was not perceived as reputable in the way that he dealt with his tenants. And this is something that is very consistent throughout Haacke’s work, is looking at systems of exchange, systems of ownership of works of art, and at the heart of it is really laying bare the kinds of transactions that are often obscured. The kinds of movement and exchanges that one thinks of in terms of economic systems, market systems, and social systems.

    This work garnered enormous controversy when it was scheduled for presentation in 1971 at the Guggenheim Museum. And in fact, not only was Haacke’s show canceled, but the curator who had organized the exhibition was terminated from their position.    

Hans Haacke
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