Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Memphis, TN



Major Duane Hanson Retrospective, First Since His Death, Comes to Brooks

April 18 through June 13, 1999


The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will present the first major retrospective of works by world-renowned sculptor Duane Hanson since his death in January, 1996. Titled Duane Hanson: A Survey of His Work from the 30s to the 90s, the exhibition will be on view from April 18 through June 13, 1999. This exhibition is sponsored by a major grant from First Tennessee's BRAVO Award. Additional support is provided by AmerUS, a Greater Memphis Arts Council Partner. Organized and debuted at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Duane Hanson has enjoyed high attendance in Flint, Michigan at the Flint Institute of Arts and in New York at the Whitney.

Including works never publicly shown, this exhibition features more than twenty of the artist' s provocative and lift-size sculptures of the human form, which date from 1967 to 1995. Several of these, such as Man on a Lawn Mower (1995), were completed just before Hanson' s death and will debut in this exhibition. Moreover, nine little-known works that Hanson made before 1967 -- which have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, and which clearly indicate the artist's formative interest in recreating the human body -- are included as well. Frequently called one of America's most engaging sculptors, Hanson created "slices" of everyday life that are of universal appeal. His exhibitions have attracted hundreds of thousands of people around the world and have set numerous attendance records. He is generally mentioned as one of the most prominent and popular sculptors of the late 20th century.

Hanson's works are not only visually exciting, but they pose important social and political commentaries about the human condition. His first work attracted attention in the turbulent 1960s when he produced expressionist statements against war and violence such as Gangland Victim (1967) and Motorcycle Accident (1967). But he soon realized he could more effectively comment on contemporary life through an objective rather than expressionistic approach. Thus he began to create sculptures directly reflecting what he called "familiar lower and middle class types," such as Young Shopper (1973) and House Painter (1989).

Unlike the wax celebrities found in Madam Tussaud's wax museum in London, Hanson's intent was not merely to reproduce reality. "My art is not about fooling people" Hanson once said. "It's the human attitudes I'm after -- fatigue, a bit of frustration, rejection. To me there is a kind of beauty of in all this." Indeed, his sculptures depict everyday people in everyday situations. Whether it is a woman in a bright print dress slouched in a chair reading, or a cleaning woman wearily pushing her cart of cleaning products, Hanson's realistic depictions of everyday life make his work accessible and familiar.

Hanson achieved his life-like results through a complex process of casting from live models, which he recreated in bronze of fiberglass resin, and polychromed with paint. To further enhance the realistic qualities of his work, he completed the process by dressing his sculptures in real clothes, often surrounding them with chairs, tables and other accessories.

See also the Oglethorpe University Museum exhibition.

From top to bottom: Young Shopper, 1973, polyester and fiberglass, polychromed in oil with accessories; Children Playing Game, 1974, polyvinyl acetate and mixed media polychromed in oil with accessories; Cowboy, 1995, Auto-body filler, fiberglass and mixed media with accessories.

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