Hans Haacke Salutes Red Rosa

I first heard about Hans Haacke in the early 1980’s. Born in Cologne, Germany, his conceptual art is well known for its caustic, razor sharp examinations of unchecked power and money. This month the US-based artist received a commission from the German government to produce a work of art commemorating the revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg. Berlin authorities have made 260,000 euros (345,000 dollars) available to Haacke for the design and construction of his Luxemburg monument, which is scheduled for completion sometime in late 2006.

Haacke intends to embed immense concrete blocks into the sidewalk around Berlin’s Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, with the giant slabs bearing the writings of Luxemburg. A significant figure in world history, Rosa Luxemburg broke with the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1918 over its pro-war stance during the first world war. Along with Karl Liebknecht she founded the Spartacist League (which became the German Communist Party).

In January of 1919, the Spartacists attempted to initiate a revolution, but failed. In the government backlash that followed hundreds of Spartacists were murdered, including Liebknecht and Luxemburg. The two martyred leaders became heroes to many German Expressionist artists, with Käthe Kollwitz creating a magnificent woodcut of Liebknecht’s funeral. While artists here in the US wait for our government to commission official monuments dedicated to the Black Slave rebellions of America’s past, we may while away the time (and it is going to be a long time), by reading some books about Hans Haacke available on Amazon.com

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