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Dieter Hacker (1942)

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An early photograph, printed in 1968 on an exhibition poster, shows a portrait of Dieter Hacker wearing sunglasses. Written on the dark glass in block letters are the concepts “Aesthetics” and “Ideology”. From the very begining right up to the present day, these two perspectives have played a central part in the artist’s work – above all in their alleged tendences to mutally corrupt one another.

In the early sixties, Dieter Hacker submitted the radical premises of concrete constructivist art to the aesthetic judgement of 100 test subjects. He produced a series of concrete and kinetic works which were deliberately conceived of as participatory “game objects” or “edible pictures”. in 1971, Hacker set up his own artist-run gallery in Berlin whose exhibition posters not infrequently rammed political barbs into the flesh of the art system.

The fact that, over the fifty years of his creative output, Dieter Hacker has consistently refused to “cultivate a distinctive style” (Christos M. Joachimides) is an essential feature of his artistic approach. His formally reduced game objects do not fit for instance the pigeon-hole of concrete constructive art, because their composition is left up to the viewer. In his piece Mausbild [Mouse Picture], on the other hand, which Hacker created in 1965 while he was a member of the EFFEKT group, 15 white mice form a kind of kinetic object.

In 1978 Dieter Hacker made a pile of photographs that he had collected at flea markets in the gallery space at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, and allowed this “mountain” to be “carried off” by the visitors. Looking back, Walter Grasskamp wrote that this work “was more concerned with accentuating the significance of the trivial – in other words, photography’s role in influencing everyday life, its state of limbo between memory and oblivion, preservation and disposal.”

Without any grand gestures of pathos, Dieter Hacker has seached to this day for what is “meaningful” in art and everyday life, in order to release them both from traditional privileged interpretations. For this, playfulness is every bit as important as the ostensibly trivial, the apparently simple can be just as significant as an elaborated work, and thinking about established art no less rewarding than thinking about what is termed folk art. The publication below is available at


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