Duane Hanson’s hyperrealistic sculptures portraying working-class Americans eschewed the predominant expressionist and Minimalist concerns of the 1950s and 1960s for an unflinching investigation of the human condition. Early life-size tableaux depicting soldiers killed in action, police brutality, and the homeless confronted viewers with devastating truths largely overlooked in the art of the time. Throughout his forty-year career, Hanson populated exhibition spaces with uncanny sculptural likenesses of blue-collar workers—repairmen, waitresses, and bricklayers—that elicited surprise, embarrassment, amusement, and sympathy from unsuspecting viewers. Although his world-weary figures owe certain qualities to Pop and Photorealism, their veracity prompts responses normally reserved for interactions with other living people. These sculptural illusions, radical in the context of their time, anteceded the later gestures of contemporary provocateurs such as Chris Burden, Maurizio Cattelan, and Fred Wilson.
Hanson was born in 1925 in Alexandria, Minnesota, and died in 1996 in Boca Raton, Florida. He received a BA from Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and an MA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Selected solo exhibitions include Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (1975); Des Moines Art Center (1977); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (1978); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1979); Kunsthaus Wien, Vienna (1992); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1994, traveled to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas); Daimaru Museum, Tokyo (1995, traveled to Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa, Japan, and Kintetsu Museum, Osaka, Japan); Saatchi Gallery, London (1997); Duane Hanson: A Survey of His Work from the ’30s to the ’90s, Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1998, traveled to Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis); Duane Hanson: More than Reality, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2001, traveled to Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy; Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; and Kunsthaus Zürich); Duane Hanson: A Midwestern Perspective, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2004); Duane Hanson: Real Life, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania (2006); Sculptures of the American Dream, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2009, traveled to ARKEN—Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen, Helsinki City Art Museum, UNESCO Weltkulturerbe Völklinger Hütte, Völklingen, Germany, and Fundación Canal, Madrid); Duane Hanson, Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); and Duane Hanson Polaroids: 1979–1994, Aperture Foundation, New York (2017).
I Don’t Like Fiction, I Like History
Duane Hanson with Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Sharon Lockhart, and Jeff Wall
September 5–28, 2018
Duane Hanson at Fondation Beyeler
To celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, staged an exhibition entitled Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson. The presentation featured several sculptures by Duane Hanson alongside more than one hundred works from the foundation’s collection. Alice Godwin considers the fertile dialogues produced by these juxtapositions.
Benjamin Nugent reflects on questions of verisimilitude and American life in the group exhibition I Don’t Like Fiction, I Like History at Gagosian, Beverly Hills.
Felix Art Fair 2021
July 29–August 1, 2021
Hollywood Roosevelt, Los Angeles
Gagosian is pleased to participate, for the first time, in the Felix Art Fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt, with a presentation of contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works on paper.
Duane Hanson, High School Student, 1990–92, 1 of 2 unique versions © 2021 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Duane Hanson, Taryn Simon, Jeff Wall
Thursday, August 20, 2020, 5pm EDT
Join Gagosian for a trio of online presentations to learn about the ways Duane Hanson, Taryn Simon, and Jeff Wall approach photography as a generative practice and notions of truth and reality. Andy Avini will explain how Hanson’s figures take on new meaning in a photographic context, Louise Neri will speak about the intersection of photography in Simon’s multidisciplinary practice, and Graham Dalik will discuss how Wall changes photography’s relationship to truth through influence from other art forms. To join, register at zoom.us.
Jeff Wall, Pawnshop, 2009 © Jeff Wall
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:30pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a tour of the group exhibition American Pastoral. The show juxtaposes modern and contemporary works with historical American landscapes ranging from Albert Bierstadt’s depiction of the sublime in Sunset over the River (1877) to Edward Hopper’s tranquil seaside scene, Gloucester Harbor (1926). Gagosian’s Alice Godwin will focus on a select grouping of exhibited works that seek to challenge the idealized vision of the American Dream that has long been a rich topic of inquiry for artists in the United States. To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited.
Installation view, American Pastoral, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, January 23–March 14, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Theaster Gates, © Adam McEwen, Thomas Moran, © Richard Prince, © Banks Violette, © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Lucy Dawkins
Duane Hanson in
Hyperréalisme: Ceci n’est pas un corps
September 8, 2022–March 5, 2023
Musée Maillol, Paris
This exhibition, whose title translates to Hyperrealism: This Is Not a Body, traces this artistic current from the 1960s to the present through more than forty sculptures by international artists. Some works strive to portray the human body in the most faithful and lifelike representation possible, while others question the notion of reality. Work by Duane Hanson is included.
Duane Hanson, Two Workers, 1993, Siftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Axel Thünker
To Begin Again
Artists and Childhood
October 6, 2022–February 26, 2023
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
To Begin Again investigates the influence of childhood and children on visual artists from the early twentieth century to today. Through painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video by a group of forty international and intergenerational artists, this exhibition illustrates the diverse experiences of this phase of life and engages childhood as an intellectual query into language and learning. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Duane Hanson is included.
Duane Hanson, Child with Puzzle, 1978 © 2023 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson
October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel
This exhibition, whose title translates to Anniversary Exhibition—Special Guest Duane Hanson, features more than one hundred works from the foundation’s collection, from modern to contemporary art, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution. Several hyperrealist sculptures by Duane Hanson enrich the presentation, opening up surprising perspectives on the exhibited artworks, architecture, staff, and visitors. Work by Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Installation view, Jubiläumsausstellung—Special Guest Duane Hanson, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, October 30, 2022–January 8, 2023. Artwork, front to back: © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Art and Medicine
April 8–July 17, 2022
This group exhibition aims to explore the timeless human preoccupation with health by retracing key moments in medical history from the nineteenth century to present day. More than three hundred works, including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, spatial installation, and performance, examine the productive interplay of sickness, pain, medicine, care, and healing. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Duane Hanson, and Damien Hirst is included.
Duane Hanson, Medical Doctor, 1992–94 © 2022 Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York