Duane Hanson

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Duane Elwood Hanson
Duane Hanson.jpg
Born January 17, 1925 (1925-01-17)
Alexandria, Minnesota
Died January 6, 1996 (1996-01-07)
(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 who worked in South Florida. He was known for his lifecast realistic works of people, cast 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 teaching 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[edit]

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 a backroom procedure, and Accident (1950)[citation needed] 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.

Around 1970, Hanson abandoned such gut-wrenching subjects 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, not overtly engaged in a violent activity.

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).[citation needed] Hanson sometimes 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.[citation needed]


He will be exhibiting at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, UK in 2015. Selected solo exhibitions of Hanson's work include Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1975), Berlin Artist Programme Akademie der Künste(1975); Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (1977); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1978); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1978); KunstHausWien, Vienna (1992); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada (1994, traveled to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas); Daimaru Museum of Art, Tokyo (1995, traveled to Genichiro-Inkuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa; and Kintetsu Museum of Art, Osaka); Saatchi Gallery, London (1997); “Duane Hanson, A Survey of his Work from the 30's to the 90's,” Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale (1998, traveled to Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis); and “Duane Hanson: More than Reality, 2001,” Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2001, traveled to Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan; Kunsthal, Rotterdam; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; and Kunsthaus Zürich).[2]


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:[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Is Duane Hanson the Phidias of Our Time?, Kimmelman, Michael. The New York Times. 27 February 1994.
  2. ^ Duane Hanson, October 30 - December 3, 2014 Gagosian Gallery, New York.
  3. ^ Duane Hanson in AskArt.com
  4. ^ Honolulu Museum of Art, wall label, Secretary by Duane Hanson, 1972, cast polyester and fiberglass, polychromed in oil, with found clothing and accessories, chair, accession 14419.1
  5. ^ Duane Hanson's Slab man sculpture at Cantor Arts Center, Stanford, CA

External links[edit]