Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
Throughout his forty-year career, Duane Hanson made lifelike sculptures portraying working-class Americans and overlooked members of society. Reminiscent of the Pop Art movement of the time, his sculptures transform the banalities and trivialities of everyday life into iconographic material.
Hanson’s early works comprised life-sized tableaux–depicting soldiers killed in action, police brutality and homeless people–that confront the viewer with devastating truths. Widespread criticism of his work Abortion in 1965 encouraged Hanson to formulate his social and political views as sculptures. In the following years, and in the spirit of protest movements of the time, he created sculptures that dealt with social misery and violence. From the late 1960s his work shifted to depicting everyday people, with some satirical aspects, creating figures that could be conceived as representative of an entire labour force, class or even a nation. Beginning with Football Players in 1968, Hanson produced sculptures that represent typical Americans, concentrating on “those that do not stand out”, including Man with Hand Cart (1975), Housepainter (1984/1988) and Queenie II (1988). The hyper-realistic nature of the sculptures results directly from Hanson’s artistic approach. Using polyester resin, he cast figures from live models in his studio, paying attention to every detail, from body hair to veins and bruises. The sculptures were assembled, adapted and finished meticulously, with the artist hand-picking clothes and accessories. Directors of the Serpentine Galleries in London, Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, have said, “Beyond the stunning realism, the power of Hanson’s work lies in his unwavering focus on and sympathy for the human condition.”
Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Saatchi Gallery, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Des Moines Art Center, Kunsthaus Wien, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Daimaru Museum of Art in Tokyo, Genichiro-Inkuma Museum of Contemporary Art in Kagawa, Kintetsu Museum of Art in Osaka, Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Art, Flint Institute of Arts, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea in Milan, Kunsthal Rotterdam, National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and Kunsthaus Zürich.
Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries