Duane Hanson

Duane Elwood Hanson
Born (1925-01-17)January 17, 1925
Alexandria, Minnesota
Died January 6, 1996(1996-01-06) (aged 70)
Boca Raton, Florida
Nationality American
Education BA, 1946, Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota
MFA, 1951, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Known for Sculpture
Movement Photorealism

Duane Hanson (January 17, 1925 – January 6, 1996) was an American artist and sculptor from Minnesota. He spent most of his career in South Florida. He was known for his lifecast realistic works of people. He casted in various materials, including polyester resin, fiberglass, Bondo, and bronze. His work is often associated with the Pop Art movement as well as hyperrealism.[1]


Duane Elwood Hanson was born January 17, 1925 in Alexandria, Minnesota. After attendance at Luther College and the University of Washington, he graduated from Macalaster College in 1946. Following a period where he taught high school art, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills in 1951.

Career and style

Around 1966 Hanson began making figural casts using fiberglass and vinyl. Works that first brought him notice were of figures grouped in tableaux, usually of brutal and violent subjects, somewhat similar to the work of Edward Kienholz. Hanson's Abortion (1966) was inspired by the horrors of an illicit backroom procedure,[2] and Accident (1967)[3] showed a motorcycle crash. Race Riot (1969–1971) included among its seven figures a white policeman terrorizing an African American man as well as an African American rioter attacking the policeman. Other works which dealt with physical violence or other explosive social issues of the 1960s were Riot (1967), Football Players (1969), and Vietnam Scene (1969).

These sculptures, cast from actual people, were made of fiberglass, and painted to make the revealed skin look realistic, with veins and blemishes. Hanson then clothed the figures with garments from second-hand clothing stores and theatrically arranged the action. Clearly these works contained strong social comment, and can be seen as modern parallels to the concerns of 19th-century French Realists such as Honoré Daumier and Jean-François Millet, artists Hanson admired.

Few of Hanson's early sculptures would survive because he later destroyed many of them, preferring to be known for his more mature style.[2]

Around 1970, Hanson abandoned gut-wrenching scenes for more subtle, though no less vivid ones. In that year he made the Supermarket Shopper, Hardhat, and Tourists; Woman Eating was completed in 1971. These were also life-sized, clothed, fiberglass figures. Unlike the earlier works, however, these were single or paired figures, and not overtly engaged in a violent activity. Instead, his figures often had a listless, bored affect, staring into the distance and disengaged from their surroundings.

In 1967, art dealer Ivan Karp attempted to persuade Hanson to move from South Florida to New York City, and the artist moved to Manhattan in 1969.[2] However, in 1973, Hanson moved back south, to Davie, Florida, where he would spend the remainder of his life.[2]

While the earlier works tended to be more contained spatially, the later figures had no clearly defined boundaries separating them from the viewer. They quite literally inhabited the viewer's space—with amusing results at times, as in the cases of Reading Man (1977) or Photographer (1978). Hanson sometimes would cast his own children in his work, as in Cheerleader (1988), and Surfer (1987).

Although detractors may liken his work to figures in a wax museum, the content of his sculptures is more complex and subtly expressive than that normally found in waxworks.


Selected solo exhibitions of Hanson's work include

Posthumous exhibitions:


Woman Eating, polyester resin, fiberglass, polychromed in oil paint with clothes, table, chair and accessories (life sized) Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1971

The following collections hold sculptures by Duane Hanson:[6]

See also


External links

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