D U A N E M I C H A L S
Duane Michals (b. 1932, McKeesport, Pa.) received a BA from the University of Denver in 1953 and worked as a graphic designer until his involvement with photography deepened in the late 1950s. Michals made significant, creative strides in the field of photography during the 1960s. In an era heavily influenced by photojournalism and its aesthetic, Michals manipulated the medium to communicate narratives using a distinctive pictorial technique. The sequences, for which he is widely known, appropriate cinema’s frame-by-frame format. Comprising single prints, each sequence depicts the unfolding of an event or reveals various perspectives on a specific subject. Michals has also incorporated text as a key component in his single and multipart works. Rather than serving a didactic or explanatory function, his handwritten text adds another dimension to the images’ meaning and gives voice to Michals’s singular musings. Balancing fragility and strength, gravity and humor, Michals’s work represents universal themes such as love, desire, memory, death, and immortality.
Over the past five decades, Michals’s work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, hosted Michals’s first solo exhibition (1970), and a year later the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, mounted another (1971). More recently, he has had one-person shows at the Odakyu Museum, Tokyo (1999), and at the International Center of Photography, New York (2005). In 2008, Michals will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a photographer with a retrospective exhibition at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Greece and the Scavi Scaligeri in Verona, Italy. His work has been included in numerous group shows including, “Cosmos” at the Musée de Beaux-Arts de Montréal (1999), “The Century of the Body: Photoworks 1900-2000” at the Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne (1999), “From Camouflage to Free Style” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1999), and “The Ecstasy of Things” at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.
In recognition of his contributions to photography, Michals has been honored with a CAPS Grant (1975), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1976), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art (1989), the Foto España International Award (2001), and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Mass.(2005). Michals’s work belongs to numerous permanent collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, New York; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Michals’s archive is housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Monographs of Michals’s work include Homage to Cavafy (1978); Nature of Desire (1989); Duane Michals: Now Becoming Then (1990); Salute, Walt Whitman (1996); The Essential Duane Michals (1997); Questions Without Answers (2001); The House I Once Called Home (2003) and Foto Follies / How Photography Lost Its Virginity on the Way to the Bank (2006). Forthcoming publications include 50 (Admira Photography, June 2008); a collection of Michals’s writing (Delpire Editeur, Fall 2008); and his Japaneseinspired, color photographs (Steidl, Fall 2008).
Michals lives and works in New York City.
“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be”. – Duane Michals – 1966
“I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new ways”. – Duane Michals
“The best part of us is not what we see, it’s what we feel. We are what we feel. We are not what we look at . . .. We’re not our eyeballs, we’re our mind. People believe their eyeballs and they’re totally wrong . . .. That’s why I consider most photographs extremely boring–just like Muzak, inoffensive, charming, another waterfall, another sunset. This time, colors have been added to protect the innocent. It’s just boring. But that whole arena of one’s experience–grief, loneliness–how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. It’s all sitting up here. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don’t have to go anywhere”. – Duane Michals
“If I was concerned about being accepted, I would have been doing Ansel Adams lookalikes, because that was easily accepted. Everything I did was never accepted…but luckily for me, my interest in the subject and my passion for the subject took me to the point that I wasn’t wounded by that, and eventually, people came around to me.” – Duane Michals
“And in not learning the rules, I was free. I always say, you’re either defined by the medium or you redefine the medium in terms of your needs”. – Duane Michals