Sponsorship and Neo-Liberal Culture




This text follows upon a correspondence in which the editor mentioned various aspects under which he would like to see the question of sponsorship treated. We decided to accept these expectations as a sporting challenge in order to provide some kind of lifeline for a readership to whom German culture-political struggles are a closed book. The result is a more or less orderly patchwork of digressions and episodes which, we hope, may describe some of the fundamental phenomena and self-images of neo-liberal culture, along with reasons for its existence.


We should like to start by noting that sponsorship in Germany is a long way from being a serious economic factor in the budgets of the cultural sector. In fact sponsorship money is by far the smallest item in Germany’s cultural budgets, and the sponsors themselves have never abandoned sport, rather than the arts, as their chief domain. In 1997, the total volume of sponsorship was estimated at 3.5 billion marks. “For 2002, given a constant rate of increase, a total of 5.1 billion marks is already being forecast... 2.3 billion marks went into sports sponsorship, and only 500 million into the arts.” This must be seen against the background of a total advertising budget in Germany of 56 billion marks. “The focus of arts sponsorship is currently in the music sector: first rock and pop music, then musicals and classical music; next come art exhibitions and support for museums...”[1]

What is the sometimes raucous public debate on the subject of sponsorship actually all about? We think that it is more about an opinion-forming process, a testing and kite-flying of intervention possibilities and a staking out of positions. The “reforms” which have accompanied the wave of restructuring which companies have undergone since the early 1990s, certainly have their parallel in the arts sector. We point to rationalisation phrases such as “lean management”, “outsourcing”, “bottom-to-top communication”, and to the new virtues which go hand-in-hand with them, namely flexibility, team spirit, motivation, creativity etc. Evidently “sponsorship”, like “fund-raising”, “public-private partnership”, “below-the-line communication”, “event marketing”, is part of the terminological complex of the academic discipline of management, including arts management, which became fashionable in this decade, as manifested both in the re-jigging of courses of study and in the grey area of in-service seminars, re-training measures and dubious congresses.

The currency enjoyed by all these terms reflects the same ideology of neo-liberalism, which, since the collapse of the world-order and the ideologies of the superpowers, has asserted its cultural and ideological hegemony. Sponsorship debates are thus often stand-ins for ideological questions concerning the CULTURE of neo-liberal conditions. At the same time these debates, the new terminology and the methods used represent a process of self-assurance on the part of individual players in their interface of strategies, opportunities and norms for which we shall use the term “dispositive” – a controversial term, because it does not clarify the diffuseness of the power gradient of social relationships which it describes. “Power does not exist... Power in reality is... a more or less organised, more or less pyramidal, more or less co-ordinated bundle of relationships.”[2] All the same, we have a rehearsal of the consensus by the actors and actresses who perform the same old soap on the stage of culture time and again: the ideologeme of bourgeois freedom vehemently asserts that it is separate from its economy, only to reconcile itself with it again and again towards the end. Sponsorship debates could show how neo-liberal cultural and political paradigms are accepted as having been acknowledged according to the democratic ritual of “controversial discussion” and are now inscribed voluntarily into the self-image of the participants and their corresponding social dispositions.

‘The text ... should give the reader abroad a short overview of how the German public was established after the War. There are probably a few problems here. How did corporate strategies first arrive on the market..?’[3]

Terms such as “sponsorship” and “corporate identity” do not appear in dictionaries of economics published in the 1950s and 60s. The question assumes that a “public” cannot be seen in isolation from the private companies which “create” such a “public” as a sales market. In relation to the way the “public” was understood in post-war Germany, however, this applies in a quite different way to the ideological understanding of the two poles “subjectivity” and “public”, within which the “entrepreneur” (and precisely not the enterprise) is generalised into an ethic of personal freedom and social responsibility. One can describe “the public” during this period as a state-guaranteed market-place, in which the entrepreneur-subjects move in a kind of wooden, non-dynamisable freedom.

In his later lectures, Foucault concerned himself with “ordo-liberalism”[4] in post-war West Germany, which, because of the prophylactic measures being taken against totalitarianism at the time, was based on a concept in which the state was required to guarantee the framework within which the market and its entrepreneurial principles could develop.[5] Thus on the one hand a separation between politics, the public and the economy was impossible, and politics showed itself to be the supporter of the very rapidly de-nazified entrepreneurs; these in turn established patriotic funds in order to subsidise the (likewise extremely rapidly de-nazified) parties. On the other hand, there was a need, particularly in a post-fascist state, to assert the strict independence of the various groups and interests in society, so as to demonstrate both the separation of powers and the disentanglement of power. Thus the field was ploughed for the coming scandals, in which lobbyism as practised continually made a mockery of the alleged independence of the different sectors. In the field of politics, this can be seen in a series of spectacular party-funding scandals culminating in the latest CDU affair.

Vis-à-vis the arts, by contrast, the state was emphatically put in the position of a neutral patron, required to provide “essential cultural services” but without any say in how they were to look. State grants and subsidies were channelled through decentralised structures. In order not to allay any suspicion of using the arts for purposes of national prestige, a central-government Ministry of Culture was rejected. Only now, with a so-called “normalised national self-awareness” has one been set up by the present government (which among other things has also given the go-ahead for the first post-war German involvement in armed conflict).

On the other hand, we hardly need the spy-stories concerning the international promotion and distribution of abstract painting by the CIA[6] if we wish to observe the ideological loyalty exercised by West Germany in the cultural sphere too (see Documenta 1 – 4). Self-initiated re-organisation possibilities such as the Demokratischer Kulturbund, an interzonal non-partisan organisation, were banned in the British and American Zones in 1947.[7] The contrasts in contemporary art, e.g. abstract/figurative, autonomous/applied, could not at first be fitted into unambiguous ideological pigeon-holes. It was the Re-education Programme of the occupying powers which hardened this debate into ideologically charged antagonisms:[8] individualism versus collectivism, humanism versus socialism, art market versus state commissions. Thus one way for art to prove its independence was for it to publicise itself through the needle’s eye of the art market, which however was supported by an intensive network of voluntary art associations, private collectors and state-subsidised museums. It must be emphasized that precisely the visual arts – perhaps because their publication so exemplarily illustrated the “free (but subsidised) market” and because its subjects so exemplarily illustrated the figure of the entrepreneur[9] – were subjected to an immense burden of proof in respect of demonstrating their liberal public-ness, which extends right up to the latest rhetorical defence of the public-service status of art against a threatened private take-over.[10]

It would have been at this time tasteless (or simply a sign that one was dealing with crafts rather than art) not to have made a strict distinction between company management and art promotion, or to have made any claim on art other than through the private acquisition of a work or through the private pleasure of being mentioned as a benefactor (if at all, then at most) in the appendix to a catalogue. (Although a discreet silence was maintained about favours exchanged at the local political level.) Likewise it would have been the height of frivolity for artists to gamble with the independence of their work and expose themselves as service-providers or cheerleaders.

The 1970s and their protest against such dangers

Walter Grasskamp describes the nationwide dominance of the collector Peter Ludwig in state collections and museums, which began in the 1970s and lasted into the 1990s, as a consequence of the so-called power vacuum which resulted from the state’s keeping out of culture.[11] But this conclusion is a categorical error in the case of businessman Peter Ludwig, whose personal vanity would not have tolerated any exploitation of his collecting activity as an advertising strategy. It only starts to cut in when we come to the culture-political offensive by company lobbyists and marketing strategists in the early 1990s.

Thus a protest against the art business in the 1970s related to its role within the categories of the market, the product, and production. The criticism appeared precisely at the time when visual art was becoming visible through broader distribution on the fringe of public mass phenomena, and at the same time criticised its product-like character at a time when mass-production organised à la Henry Ford was gradually succumbing to crisis.

In 1967, the Cologne art market was inaugurated as the classical promise of democracy through consumption. “The public’s initial fears... of modern art were dismantled more quickly than any art collection anxious to do an educational job on its visitors could have managed; the local art market recruited its end-consumer ... by means of a fearless mercantilisation of its environment, which allowed art to be translated into the current coin of perception, namely that of a consumer product.”[12] From the subsequent criticism of this “product-character of the work of art” one can nevertheless continue to distil the demands previously made of art: “Hoffmann-Axthelm ... assumes that art can no longer fulfil the function of prestige in a thoroughly capitalised society, ... under capitalism, products represent private interests on principle. This causes a dilemma for artists, who, with the loss of social prestige, ... withdraw into individualism, which, in the mass-society, itself becomes product-like in the guise of pseudo-individualism.”[13] This dilemma can only be understood when seen against the background of changes which had already occurred in cultural and economic self-images, where behind the humanistic theatre of anti-communism and the collective amnesia regarding fascism, an abstract capitalist market becomes recognisable once more – with an ever more effective international exploitation relationship.

The critics of an art which is indifferent or even affirmative in this respect, an art which continues to maintain the pretence of the “charismatic artist dealing in his own person”, have had recourse to performative and conceptual artistic methods in order to describe anew a “non-product-like” cultural production process. These methods “include the integration of the public or of passers-by as the case may be, the equation of everyday actions or objects with the practice of art, as well as intervention in the urban environment...”[14] albeit without understanding that the claim to be an exemplary representative of “society” is hegemonial in itself. Here perhaps methods were being set in motion which, in the 1990s, finally became part of companies’ corporate identity repertoire, and of the complacent formulae of its now “self-evident” legitimacy: the extended idea of art, the process-orientation of management, the participation of the employees, the getting-away from brand-product fixation, the “taking of global responsibility” (in other words the exercise of unrestricted global power): “World society as a learning society needs companies which are capable of doing unusual things... Such things – works of art – appear in the artistic act:. Companies make themselves capable of similar achievements by integrating elements of artistic creativity into their business process.”[15]

Three digressions

At this point, three digressions seem to us to be appropriate. They describe a kind of helix, in which, with the progressive deregulation of the economy and the end of the ideological power-bloc link, cultural and economic self-images intertwine.

1. From Ordo-Liberalism to the Chicago School

While the starting point of the Ordo-liberals was the idea of a market “which must constantly be supported by regulation and framed by social interventions..,” this – as Foucault expressed it – “difference between the economic and the social” was now levelled out, in which process the government itself becomes a kind of enterprise, whose task... is to invent market-like systems of action for individuals, groups and systems.”[16] This shows an “epistemological shift”, in which “economics” is no longer one social sphere among others, but comprises the totality of human social action. This can be seen especially clearly in the development of Human Relations in the personnel management of the 1970s, in which connexion we can at last speak of the development of corporate identity strategies. They form a first calculation of the economisability of the personal and cultural resources of employees – so-called soft factors, which become topical as soon as natural resources prove to be limited (oil crisis) and the manufacture of mass-produced goods is seen to be unprofitable (market saturation / automation competition).

It is wrong in this connexion to speak of a renaissance of the liberal programme of the 19th century, whose starting point was a radical separation of economics, politics and subjectivity. Rather, in the abolition of the boundaries between these sectors, what is happening is an “integration of economic necessity” in respect of government and subjectivity, which now, as behaviourist-manipulable entities, are constantly subject to a kind of “economic tribunal”.[17] In the process, the neo-liberal social technology is so closely coupled to the self-regulability of individuals and individual groups that it looks like voluntariness. “Self-determination is a central economic resource and a production factor... In the neo-liberal harmony there are no barriers between the economic, the psychological and the social.”[18] Thus the erstwhile politically regulated “border-traffic” between the autonomous sectors of the cultural public, business and subjectivity is also becoming more “flexible”.

2. Art for art’s sake

In this “neo-liberal” harmony, the mode of legitimation for companies has changed. That the traditional social purpose of the company – preservation of jobs / production of goods for the benefit of the community – can hardly be maintained in view of automation and the boundless internationalisation of trade in goods and labour, was demonstrated in the early 1990s by the impotent conjuring up of alliances between a policy fixated on shares of the national vote and a global-player economy which only deigned to sit down at the “round tables” when enticed by the argument of the attractiveness of the location.[19] In their undisputed exercise of power, companies and their shareholders can appropriate the legitimation mode of “art for art’s sake”. This is the attribute of an “aesthetic” which owes its social design to the need to possess a seemingly ideology-free and thus unlimited validity, which now uses the label “post-ideological” to present corporate hegemony claims as “natural”.

In 1996, Berlin was the venue of a conference entitled Unternehmen Kultur / Kultur Unternehmen [The Business of Culture / The Culture of Business].[20] The aim of the meeting was “to initiate an ongoing dialogue between business and culture... which has its interface in business culture... The intention is to debate the extent to which cultural operations in the future can be service providers and co-operation partners for business.” The pilot project was designed “at the same time to send out signals to the whole of Germany.”[21] After the individual representatives of the corporations had presented their sponsorship activities, two working groups were set up to discuss the topics “culture promotion as system evolution” and “aesthetics in management”.[22] Both “seminars” were conducted using a rhetoric which made those attending think they were on some in-service training course. In “culture promotion as system evolution” the company was compared to a tribe: specific initiation rites – a mountain hike, a sailing trip, or a group-centred performance workshop – were, it was said, conceivable precisely for young managers as a form of corporate identity optimisation. In “aesthetics in management” it was explained that the corporate decision-making process in itself was a form of concept art, in that the company was equated with the “notion of art in the wider sense”.[23]

It is not the works of art, whose provocativeness was previously thought to promise employee motivation, but the legitimation patterns of culture itself – its self-evidential nature, its social tolerance-edict, its independence – which are used as the purpose-building material of company philosophies.[24] Thus the cultural sphere is declared to be part of an economic omnipotence, which would now really like to fill that power vacuum which (according to Grasskamp) resulted from the state’s renunciation of cultural display, and this happens through the politicisation of the company as bearer of national cultural responsibility. The simplicity of the syllogism is unbeatable: “If you present the (Mercedes) star in any country you like, it is seen as a product of the highest German quality and at the same time as a piece of economic culture. And thus culture from Germany.” [25]

3. Participation concepts

In this context it would be a false polarisation to criticise individual artistic positions, where, after all, these are often inseparably linked with curatorial, financial, and arts-page bureaucracies. [26]

In 1997, Rikrit Tiravanija reproduced his New York apartment at the Cologne Kunstverein (Art Association) and required these rooms to be open for 24 hours a day. This situation was announced by the head of the Kunstverein with the same consumption-critical gestures of left-wing art criticism as we described above: “at a time in which art, too, has long since succumbed to over-production and obligatory consumption.. , Tiravanija makes... deliberate reference to something which transcends any question of purpose because it quite simply reflects basic human needs such as eating, drinking, sleeping, talking.” [27]

This kind of satiation is adduced however after the great profit phase of the mass-production of consumer goods. It relates opportunely to the yuppie purism of the “new simplicity” and the toleration of a new social gradient. At the same time it appears in a gesture of a MAKING AVAILABLE of space and somewhere to stay, and hushes up the institutional conditions in which this happens. This is akin to making false statements under the guise of art.

In the Apartment at the Kunstverein visitors are incorporated willy-nilly as components of the artistic concept. “What do people make out of his work of art? How will they develop it further in the sense of work-in-progress? An unknown Cologne artist is regularly present for five hours at a time, and in the apartment’s refrigerator he keeps a stone sandwich... A homeless man... threw this stone in a fit of controlled rage into the street when his request for something to eat was not fulfilled.”[28] The exhibition resulted from a financing concept in which the Cologne-based Central Versicherung insurance company sponsored the artist’s sojourn in Cologne for six months. The sponsors emphasised that they were no longer interested in acquiring art products, but in the transferability of art itself to the company philosophy.[29]

These digressions draw attention to certain aspects of the mutual appropriation of cultural and economic self-images, which are characteristic of the 1990s. For both spheres, the social utopias and artistic concepts of the 1960s and 1970s form the historical resource of their appropriation. It is easy now to imply that every progressive step helps to prepare the next phase of capitalism, to lean back, and to fold one’s hands on one’s stomach in melancholy but I-told-you-so fashion. That would mean, however, subjectivising the respective interference-rights on the wrong side. A side that constantly shows itself to be contemptible in that it can only ever rob itself of its intellectual “content”.

“...The 1980s and 1990s, above all the latter: Berlin branding policy, the competition between cultural events, the Confederation of German Industries, Phillip Morris, Siemens Culture Programme, counter-currents, and the final victory, thanks to Berlin, of the investors and the kow-tow policy. An aerial view of the whole thing...”

The aeroplane, from which we shall now view the further development of “Sponsorship” / Corporate Identity strategies and neo-liberal culture, flies – mindful of its duty to federalism or in imitation of TV weather-forecast simulations – over three cities whose cultural policies symptomatically reflect the developments of the last two decades. We shall start in Cologne, the exemplar of all city councils with any cultural ambition.[30]


As long ago as the 1960s, with the shift of international orientation-points and art markets from Paris to New York, Cologne had taken over from Düsseldorf the leading position as art-market location, and precisely reflected the political and cultural hegemony relationship with the USA. The real boom did not begin until the 1980s, with the export of Neo-expressionist German painting to the USA, and continued with artists from the classes of the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. The production of West German art in Düsseldorf and its marketing in Cologne constituted the “Rhenish model”, the example for all other cultural planners to follow. It even turned up as a point of reference for BritPop in the Sensation catalogue, and is still sometimes depicted as exemplary for postgraduate programmes. Older Cologne gallery-owners were still suspicious, however, “... that companies and private individuals can build up images for themselves by surrounding themselves with culture. Even politicians have recognised that commitment in the cultural sphere is good for the career, for example... building a new prestige museum and consequently making the museum successful... The developments of the 1960s and also of the 1970s, especially in politics, did after all represent a liberation from many obstacles and taboos... The fear of the avant-garde begins where political conservatism starts. At a time in which one gives more thought to where one dresses up to go out in the evening and have a good meal... where it’s continually being demonstrated how clean, how freshly painted the façade of life is, this is of course the root of Post-modernism. Everything is conserved. Just look at the whole abortion debate. A problem that was actually solved in the 1960s, is now being discussed once more in such a way that whole sections of society are coming into disrepute. This conservatism can easily swing over into fascism. That is what this conservation is, and that is what the 1980s were – a totally conservative society. This is also connected with the new business start-up boom.”[31] The quotation makes it clear that it would be economistic to read this social transformation of the meaning of visual art exclusively in the context of contemporary economic shifts – the liberalisation of financial markets, the unprofitability of mass production and the appearance of “brand images”, the first boom of the service industries, in particular the communications sector, the speculative euphoria of the Trump era. (The “hunger for pictures” represented the dismantling of the politically and socially committed art of the 1970s.) In any case, this degree of popularity for the visual arts has seldom been achieved, but it does go hand-in-hand with a certain form of content-shift in a sphere which was previously distinguished in other ways. Perhaps a form of satisfaction is connected with this, the satisfaction of regarding a cultural asset as a capital investment, as the young urban professionals did, although the talk of “art as investment” in many cases was economically just as irrelevant as the current hyping of sponsorship, and here too the intention is rather to clarify and demonstrate social interference rights. In spite of the museum buildings, the art consultants and the fantastical price charts, this rhetoric points to a decline in recognition for the social importance of art, in the sense that it is no longer allowed any independent position vis-à-vis the economy.[32] The, as yet, final major concerted action on the part of Cologne galleries took place in 1990, and was called “The Köln Show” [sic] and sub-titled “Nachschub” (“Reinforcements”). A euphemism designed to suggest the fulfilment of an apparently pressing demand. Shortly before, Paul Maenz, one of the early initiators of the Cologne art boom, had closed his gallery – on the one hand with the rhetoric of being fed up with the popularity which he himself had conjured up, and on the other, he knew perfectly well that HIS time was up... Two years after “The Köln Show” a rumour went the rounds that the city council was considering giving support to preservation-worthy art galleries on the verge of bankruptcy, in order to rescue Cologne’s gallery culture from collapse – so great was the extent to which the gallery scene had become an integral component of the city’s public image. And in parallel, the rhetoric of art as a capital investment flopped – and the first great wave of speculative profits since the Second World War turned into a crash.

Frankfurt......?? “Does culture go on purpose?”[33]

Frankfurt was a prime example of the 1980s museum boom, but the budget cuts of the early 1990s were savage. What needs to be asked now is how and whether the project to-turn-a-city-into-a-cultural-metropolis is capable of being implemented in any way at all, whether in this feasibility fantasy there is a fundamental parallel between culture management and corporate management, and what is the attitude of the cultural functionaries employed by the companies. In many cases it turned out that it was a matter of total indifference to the cultural functionaries where the money came from and on what conditions, as long as they felt confirmed in their function.

As long ago as the 1970s, the CDU city administration drew up the first plans for the acculturation of the inner city. There was a post-modern need to reconstruct the “city”, in order to simulate something like urban life in what was a working-class routine of a barrack-like existence divided between sleeping and production quarters. In this simulation, culture was accorded a large role as a “cheerleader”, within which the post-war German ethic of “culture for all”, as adumbrated above,[34] could be integrated. Frankfurt was one of the first examples in which the attractions of “the city” were first understood in a conglomerate of “restoration” clichés which appeared instead of modernity à la Ford: the newly re-built Marktplatz with its half-timbered houses, the reconstructed Old Opera House, the Museum Embankment with its Postal, Applied Arts and Architecture museums, among others; these were followed by the Schirn Kunsthalle (art gallery) and the Museum of Modern Art, which was opened in the early 1990s. That this acculturation was thought up largely by the city planning department became clear when, in the early 1990s, the buildings were maintained, but the purchasing budget and the staff establishment for all the museums were drastically cut.

Maybe the creation of a civic image must be seen in parallel with the development of “corporate collecting” by Deutsche Bank, which named the storeys of its tower after the artists represented in each. In any case, a comparison between Deutsche Bank, which in the 1980s occupied the most important collecting position in West Germany, and the Ludwig Collections, which it had replaced in importance, now made the differences clear. They lie in the corporate nature of the endeavour. While Ludwig presented references to his confectionery business at most as proof of his liberalism – e.g. the chocolate bust by Jeff Koons – it was now no longer a person, but the corporation itself which appeared as the collector. In order to establish the image of the bank as an art collector, the collection itself no longer needed to be exhibited to any public. On the contrary, the purchases themselves were enough, whereby the image of the bank functioned as a value-stabilising factor in both directions: on the one hand, for artists fearing for their livelihood, a presence in the collection is an absolute must; on the other, this confirms the traditional value-stabilising role of a bank. This kind of corporate collecting was adopted by many corporations in the 1980s.

An important first for the German sponsorship debate in the 1990s was the curatorial practice of Jean Christophe Ammann, who, both as head of the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt and as the curator of the German contribution to the 1995 Venice Biennale seemed to attach exaggerated importance to the visibility of the sponsors and joint ventures with private enterprise. The letting out of the Museum of Modern Art to Karl Lagerfeld for a fashion show or putting up a plaque to sponsor Hugo Boss on the façade of the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale were spectacular examples. Ammann’s explanation for this demonstrative “fund-raising” came across as ambivalent. However much it represented a clear indictment of Frankfurt City Council, all the more affirmatively did Ammann refer to the possibility of at least temporarily “becoming part of the philosophy of a company”, a view which he repeated in numerous interviews and debates. “We are not in America, where tax rates are substantially lower than in Germany... and for this reason, I am very concerned that the money companies spend on our behalf... should be deductible... as business expenses. This means that companies are also increasingly discovering us as “advertising media”... They are involving themselves with us as an element of their corporate philosophy. They stand up for the museum as a store of collective memory and for its works as part of the collective biography.”[35] Both the indictment of the local authority / state sector, and the affirmation of the private-sector financial backers, revealed in all their exaggeration the same arguments which the many sponsorship debates in the following years were to polarise in the same way: e.g. state money versus private money (whereby sponsorship-sceptics were accused of describing state money as “clean” and private money as “dirty”)[36] , and American versus European finance (to which were linked sweeping judgements ranging from welfare payments to taxation). What emerged from these debates in general was how on the one hand the current German ethos of “cultural essential services” was emphasised, while on the other hand, in view of the – undisputed – demands imposed by shortage of state funds, all the other areas of society were subjected to a kind of financial-audit rhetoric. This rhetoric is fed by the neo-liberal efficiency criteria which in the early 1990s also influenced the state and its administration, which complain of too high a proportion of the national income being spent by the state, demanding slimming-down and a greater service-mentality etc. “There are so many charities which do not have to reveal their cards to the state, and that will be the next point in the Federal Republic of Germany. A huge number of responsibilities overlap here, mechanisms take on a life of their own. They’ll be the next.”[37]

Maybe the most interesting thing about the Ammann symptom is that indictment of the state, preservation of existing privileges, and jealousy of other public-sector recipients are curiously mixed with an affirmative understanding of the corporate identity strategies of the new enterprises, an understanding which, however, has hardly shown any feeling for the ramifications of this self-image. Thus the Museum of Modern Art exhibited the first Benetton posters: “This is not cynicism; on the contrary, Oliviero Toscani is a moralist.” (ibid.) If one compares the large portraits by Thomas Ruff in the first room of the Museum of Modern Art with Benetton’s US death-row PR campaign currently on exhibition in the Museum, one can begin to understand this affinity, because Benetton takes the empty, but popular gestures of 1980s art and fills them with the strategic purpose of the company. We shall use the time it takes to fly between Frankfurt and Berlin to make a digression into this new purpose-production by the post-Ford corporation.

_______________PART 2 continue >

Ludger Hünnekens, Kultursponsoring – Bilanz einer Zweckgemeinschaft, p.22, in Musikforum, Vol. 34, no.88, June 1998, pub. Deutscher Musikrat. In contrast to the, if anything, hesitant real investments, the opinion of sponsorship is mostly painted in positive terms. Thus in a survey conducted this year, two-thirds of the companies questioned replied that they used sponsorship as a means of advertising, 44.8% of the sponsorship budget for sport and 24.9% for the arts. Three-quarters believe that the importance of “below-the-line communication” will increase (2nd evaluation by the faculty of Economics and Organisational Sciences, Bundeswehr university, 2000, Munich). These opinions, supported by the alleged objectivity of the evaluation, belong to the technique of self-fulfilling prophecies in business-economic and culture-economic trends, in which ideologies rather than facts can frequently be discerned.

[2] Dispositive der Macht, Michel Foucault über Sexualität, Wissen und Wahrheit, publ. Merve Verlag, Berlin 1978

[3] These headings are quoted from an e-mail from Stephan Dillemuth to Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann dated 6 May 2000

[4] Ordo-liberalism was the ideological programme of the CDU and received strong support from ecclesiastical circles. In contrast to the Frankfurt School, it represented the conviction that fascism was not the logical consequence of capitalism, but the consequence of the absence of a market economy. The question of how fascism arose was the central category of every economic and political theory at the time.

[5] Cf. Thomas Lemke: Eine Kritik der politischen Vernunft, Hamburg 1997, p. 244ff.

[6] Cf. Serge Guillbaut: Wie New York die Idee der modernen Kunst gestohlen hat, Dresden /Basle 1997

[7] cf. Jutta Held: Kunst und Politik in Deutschland 1946 – 49, Berlin, 1991

[8] The polemics (loss of the centre) of the Salzburg cultural specialist Hans Sedlmayr were highly influential in this connexion, and found a broad forum in the 1950 “first Darmstadt colloquies”. Under the motto “The human image in our time” the question of Abstract Expressionism v. Realism was discussed, in a charged field of resentment against the occupying powers, concealed Revanchism, pro-Americanism, and Neutralist tendencies.

[9] Thus in the sphere of the visual arts, not only a public (market) but also a subject was produced, which exemplarily represented the ethos of the entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is someone (and this basis of bourgeois economy links up with the aesthetics of bourgeois existence) who represents money / assets in himself. The art historian Svetlana Alpers in her book “Rembrandt als Unternehmer” [Rembrandt as Entrepreneur] points to “the idea of the ‘owner’ of oneself, which is what Rembrandt promoted himself as. He turned himself into an entrepreneur marketing himself, a self which he transformed into products.” This happened as a result of a retreat from the commission system, the organisation of the purpose of the art-work by the artist himself, and a strategic handling of market-value through the targeted circulation of promissory notes, cf. Stephan Geene, MAiD, money-aided ich-design, Berlin 1998, p. 34

[10] “We must emphasise that we are operating in public space, even though we represent a minority position. The essential services (in art) must be maintained... In addition, in Germany there is a socially traumatic relationship with the predecessor state, in which modern art, as public enemy number one, took a symbolic position.” Kasper König, in Handkäs’ mit Musik, unauthorised recording of an interview with J. C. Ammann, K. König, M. Winzen, M. L. Lienhardt, H. Schneebeli, Frankfurt/Main, 1995, in ÖkonoMiese machen

[11] Walter Grasskamp: Die unästhetische Demokratie, Munich 1992

[12] ibid. P. 41

[13] Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm, Theorie der künstlerischen Arbeit. Eine Untersuchung zur Lage der bildenden Kunst in den kapitalistischen Ländern, Frankfurt/Main, 1974 / Hans Heinz Holz: Vom Kunstwerk zur Ware. Studien zur Funktion des ästhetischen Gegenstandes im Spätkapitalismus, Frankfurt/Main 1973, introduced and criticised by Justin Hoffmann / Alice Creischer in: Identitätszelebrierung..., ÖkonoMiese machen, der Reader zur Messe 2ok, ed. Alice Creischer, Dierk Schmidt, Andreas Siekmann, Berlin / Amsterdam 1996

[14] Martin Damus, quoted in: Creischer/Hoffmann, ibid.

[15] Geiselhardt, quoted by Ludger Hünnekens, loc.cit. p.21. E.g. employing young women between 16 and 23 without any employment rights for one dollar per hour to assemble micro-components, like Philips, Siemens, Nokia, DaimlerChrysler, Toshiba, ITT and many others. “When the USA axed the Bracero Program in 1964, it placed 200,000 Mexican workers on the border at a stroke... The sudden massive number of unemployed led to the Mexican government being prepared to consent to the plan for a tariff-free zone, in which foreign firms could set up their assembly plants.” Ursula Biemann, Free Zone Plan, in: been there and back to nowhere, Geschlecht in transnationalen Orten, Berlin 2000

[16] Lemke, loc.cit., p. 247 – 248

[17] ibid.

[18] Donzelot, quoted in Lemke, loc.cit., p. 256

[19] One example is the round tables for a joint programme to combat unemployment, which the Kohl government called into being in the early 1990s together with representatives of industry. These meetings were ineffectual, while the so-called “progress” made by the SPD government was only achieved by surrendering the remains of its “socialist” programme

[20] December 1996, Kulturbrauerei Berlin, organised by Gabriele Muschter (Kulturbrauerei Berlin), Rupert Graf Strachwitz (Mäcenata GmbH, Munich) and Dirk Wagener (Marketing Director of the Dresden Music Festival). Among those attending were representatives of Siemens, Daimler Benz, Bertelsmann, Philipp Holzmann, and the Association of Eastern German Savings Banks, Peter Raue (chairman of the Friends of the National Gallery, Berlin), Volker Hassemer (managing director of the Partner-für-Berlin PR GmbH), Dirk Baecker (University of Witten-Herdecke) and Niklas Luhmann

[21] press release, Unternehmen Kultur / Kultur Unternehmen, Kulturbrauerei Berlin, 1996

[22] Both “seminars offered a theoretical mix of aesthetics, ethnology, behaviourist psychology, which might be seen as typical of the abundance of contemporary management literature in the early 1990s. In retrospect, this literature looks like a kind of sublimation of that breathlessness company restructuring, that existential panic, which was summoned up by the rationalisation of staff hierarchies à la Henry Ford, that heightened competitive situation of middle management under the threat of dismissal. Thus this literature is an exact psychogram of existential fears, search for authority, and ideological discovery which can without difficulty be compared with other self-help and advice literature. Cf. Katja Reichard, Soziosound, in Messe 2ok, loc. cit.

[23] a term employed in the 1970s by Joseph Beuys in order to rehabilitate art as the venue of political statements, and at the same time to demand the democratisation of access to art college – which led to his dismissal from his post of professor

[24] “The ‘cultivation’ of business demands from companies the will to be active on the culturally creative level. The entrepreneur must have the will, in co-operation with his employees, to create something like a total work of art.” 75, Peter Koslowsky, der homo ökonomikus, in Wirtschaftsethische Perspektiven, ed. Hans G. Nutzinger, Berlin, 1994.25

[25] original text of lecture: Business culture in the globalisation process, Matthias Kleinert, DaimlerBenz, Stuttgart

[26] (further case descriptions on the parallels between post-Fordian economic ideology and Ambient Art in: Alice Creischer / Andreas Siekmann: Reformmodelle, Springer, spring 1997)

[27] Udo Kittelmann, press release for the exhibition Tomorrow is another day, Cologne Kunstverein, 1997

[28] Jürgen Kister, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 3 Jan. 1997

[29] the approximate tenor of the insurance company’s public representation of its position at the award ceremony: The sale of a policy is for our employees just as abstract as art, and so the situation, the conversation, is the decisive factor in the sale of insurance policies etc.

[30] In particular we do not feel tempted to offer a commentary on Siemens’ cultural programme, as we have discussed it too often; on this, cf. the chapter: Sonntag, in ÖkonoMiese machen, loc. Cit./Dierk Schmidt: Sponsorenstress, in ANYP, No. 9, Berlin /Soziales Plastik – a conversation with Alice Creischer, Holger Kube Ventura, Andreas Siekmann, Dierk Schmist, Ingo Vetter, Annette Weisser, ibid.

[31] Rolf Ricke in: Alice Creischer: State of Confidence, Interviews zu Kunst und Ökonomie, Düsseldorf, 1994

[32] “When I started in Lucerne in 1968, art was much more marginal to society. Today it’s right in our midst. People active in companies go to exhibitions much more these days. People are a company’s greatest capital. That’s why I believe that companies know that they must do something for their employees, in the sense of their motivation and their own competence, and that art is the only intact quarry where they can get ideas. (ibid.)

[33] Stephan Geene in a discussion in the Shedhalle with Sabine Grimm and Diedrich Diedrichsen in Natur TM, Shedhalle Zürich, 1995

[34] Thus the title of a programmatic article by the then Head of the Frankfurt City arts Department Hilmar Hoffmann. At the same time, Frankfurt was professionalising its municipal Art College through targeted re-staffing, and towards the end of the 1990s initiated the Frankfurt Art Market

[35] Jean-Christophe Ammann, Schöpferische Allianz [“Creative Alliance”], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Tuesday 24 October 1995; the article was a highly polemical reply to Hans Haacke’s earlier warning against museums’ becoming dependent on sponsorship.

[36] e.g. Daniel Cohn Bendit in: Kunst in der Demokratie Mousonturm, Frankfurt – discussion with, among others, Diederich Diedrichsen, Alice Creischer, Andreas Siekmann, Ludger Hünnekens, Daniel Cohn Bendit, October 1998

[37] Jean Christophe Ammann in: Handkäs’ mit Musik, ÖkonoMiese machen, loc.cit.

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