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Considered a multidisciplinary artist from his beginnings, in the late seventies Mike Kelley became interested in the critical analysis of certain of the religious, psychological and economic conventions on which Western civilization is based. The artist examines popular culture, its symbols, milestones and seduction mechanisms, to find subjects and materials with which to develop a syncretic discourse where concepts like psychoanalysis, the history of visual culture and the communications media converge. In his extrovert works, the triviality of human existence in the contemporary world and the typical banality of everyday life are converted into formal, grotesque, almost surrealistic structures, in which sarcasm always has a presence.

His ability to rework the language of art and merge different artistic disciplines have made Marcel Broodthaers, one of the key artists of the twentieth century, with a body of work that includes writing, film, the production of objects and graphic work. Based on Marxist analysis and structuralist theories of language, all of his artistic practice revolves around the reflection on art and the role of museums as institutions. Broodthaers freely incorporates language errors and turns of phrases, classic literary authors, objects from everyday life and natural elements into his work.

In 1969, Broodthaers attended Lucien Goldman’s seminary on Charles Baudelaire and the following year made Une seconde d’eternité (A Second of Eternity) and others in which he transferred the French poet’s intuitions to the present.

“It’s a very short film, in fact it lasts a second, and it’s called Une seconde d’eternité (A Second of Eternity). It’s very important to me because I think that with it I evidence a certain artistic reality which is expressed on the artistic plane. On the other hand, I think that the basis of artistic creation rests on a Narcissistic foundation. The film is called Une seconde d’eternité. In a certain way it’s inspired in the work of Charles Baudelaire. I enjoyed making it very much because that graphic, which lasts only one second, at the same time constitutes a fiction film. It seems to me that the author’s signature, be it that of an artist, a filmmaker or a poet, matters little; it is the beginning of a system of lies that all poets, all artists, try to establish to defend themselves, I don’t exactly know against what.”

Marcel Broodthaers, Cinéma. Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1997.

Hans Haacke, is one of the key figures in Conceptual art. His installations, which are critical of the role of museums as part of a cultural industry at the service of power, have often been censored. In 1971, his exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York was cancelled, and in 1974 one of his works was removed from the exhibition Kunst bleibt Kunst at the Museum of Cologne. In the early nineties, Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona terminated its agreement with the artist on discovering the project he was planning to present. And in 2000, his project Der Bevölkerung (To the People), created at the Reichstag in Berlin, sparked fierce controversy. All of which makes Haacke a pioneer of ‘institutional critique’, which is now an integral part of contemporary art practice

Andrea Fraser is not only one of the main exponents of institutional critique in contemporary art, but probably the first person to use this term in print.

"But just as art cannot exist outside the field of art, we cannot exist outside the field of art, at least not as artists, critics, curators, etc. And what we do outside the field, to the extent that it remains outside, can have no effect within it. So if there is no outside for us, it is not because the institution is perfectly closed, or exists as an apparatus in a “totally administered society” […]. It is because the institution is inside of us, and we can’t get outside of ourselves."

Andrea Fraser

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I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life
Jean-Michel Basquiat