Palm Springs, California, United States
Duane Michals, Palm Springs, April 30, 2018. Photo by Tim Soter.
2199 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208, United States
In 1953, Duane received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver.
66 5th Ave, New York, NY 10011, United States
In 1956, Michals attended Parsons School of Design.
Duane Michals and Robin Williams, photographed around 1980. Courtesy of Thames and Hudson.
Duane's interest in art sparked at the age of fourteen when he attended watercolor university classes at the Carnegie Institute (present-day the Carnegie Museum of Art) in Pittsburgh. Then, he went to attend the University of Denver, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953. Later, in 1956, Michals continued his studies at Parsons School of Design, striving to become a graphic designer. Though, Duane didn't finish his studies.
In 2005, Duane received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly.
In 1953-1955, Duane served in the United States Army. Before attending Parsons School of Design in 1956, he wanted to become a graphic designer, but he didn't complete his studies and later, while on a holiday in the USSR in 1958, he discovered an interest in photography. During that trip, Duane made portraits of people on the streets with a borrowed camera.
Over the years, Michals's approach to expressive photography changed considerably. His early interest in street happenings led him to make single documentary images of events, that were considered part of what then was called the "social landscape". In the mid-1960's, Duane lost interest in straight documentation. Inspired by the work of such painters as René Magritte and Balthus, Michals began to address literary and philosophical ideas about death, gender and sexuality. He usually staged scenes to be photographed and worked with multiple exposures, sequences and series. Michals also began experimenting with combining text and drawings with his images.
It's important to note, that Michals was hired by the government of Mexico to photograph the 1968 Summer Olympics. Later, he also served as a commercial photographer for the magazines Mademoiselle and Esquire and covered the filming of The Great Gatsby for Vogue in 1974. In 1983, he produced the art for the album "Synchronicity" by The Police, a British rock band. Later, in 1993, Duane also created art for Richard Barone's "Clouds Over Eden" album in 1993.
Over the past five decades, Michals's work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad. The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, hosted Michals's first solo exhibition in 1970. His other solo exhibitions include those, held at the George Eastman House (present-day George Eastman Museum), Rochester, New York (1971), Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut (1976), Odakyu Museum, Tokyo (1999), International Center of Photography, New York City (2005), Museum of Photography, Thessaloniki, Greece (2008), International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri, Verona, Italy (2008), DC Moore Gallery, New York City (2013 and 2016), Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2014), Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (2015), Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California (2018), among others.
Group exhibitions Michals took part in include "Toward a Social Landscape", George Eastman House (present-day George Eastman Museum), Rochester, New York (1966), "Cosmos", Musée de Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (1999), "The Century of the Body: Photoworks 1900–2000", Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne, Switzerland (1999), "From Camouflage to Free Style", Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (present-day Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris), Paris, France (1999) and "The Ecstasy of Things", Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (2004).
Also, Duane has authored many books, including "Sequences" (1970), "The Journey of the Spirit After Death" (1971), "Take One and See Mt. Fujiyama, and Other Stories" (1976), "Real Dreams: Photostories" (1976), "A Visit with Magritte" (1981), "Foto Follies: How Photography Lost Its Virginity on the Way to the Bank" (2006) and others. His most recent book is "Ce Que J'ai Écrit", published in 2008.
Since 2015, Michals has worked mainly in the short film medium. The films he directed include "People Eat People" (2016), "The Sorcerer Invents the Universe" (2016), "Are You Still?" (2016), "The Pleasures of the Glove" (2017), "What is Real" (2017), "Interruptus" (2018), "YORT" (2019) and others.
Currently, Duane lives and works in New York City.
(This work represents a book of sequential photography, de...)1970
"Joe Dallesandro", New York
The Illuminated Man
The Nature of Desire
The Bewitched Bee
Take One and See Mt. Fujiyama, 1970s
Dr Heisenberg's Magic Mirror of Uncertainty
I Build a Pyramid
Willem de Kooning
Fireflies In My Hand
Sailor in Minsk
A Woman Dreaming in the City
A Man Dreaming in the City
Empty New York
Charles and Bertha Burchfield
John and Maxwell
Duane was raised as a Catholic.
Duane Michals produces photograph sequences to depict emotion and global themes like love, death and immortality. In addition, Michals also incorporates text into his work. Instead of using text to explain his photography, he uses text to give voice to his ideas and thoughts about the pictures.
It's important to mention, that, though Duane has not been involved in gay civil rights, his photography also addresses gay themes.
It's worth noting, that Michals cites Balthus, William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Eakins, René Magritte and Walt Whitman as influences on his art.
"I use photography to help me explain my experience to myself. I believe in the imagination. What I can not see is infinitely more important, than what I can see."
"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."
"I feel the political aspirations are impotent. They can never be seen. If they are, it will only be by a limited audience. If one is to act politically, one simply puts down the camera and goes out and does something. I think of someone like Heartfield, who ridiculed the Nazis. Who very creatively took great stands. He could have been killed at any moment, he was Jewish and my God what the guy did. It was extraordinary. You don't see that now."
"Trust that little voice in your head, that says 'Wouldn't it be interesting, if...; And then do it."
"Taking photographs and writing is my way of saying I was here, I saw this, I felt this, I heard this."
"I am an expressionist and by that I mean, that I'm not a photographer or a writer or a painter or a tap dancer, but rather, someone who expresses himself according to his needs."
"Don't try to be an artist. Find the thing within you, that needs to be expressed. You might find it is art."
"How foolish of me to believe, that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearance of trees and automobiles, and people with a reality itself, and believed, that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth, that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection, photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing."
"Art is really whispering, not shouting."
"I am interested in the nature of things. The nature of something is quite different from the way it looks."
"I believe in the invisible. I do not believe in the definitive reality of things around us. For me, reality is the intuition and the imagination and the quiet voice inside my head, that says: isn't that extraordinary? The things in our lives are the shadows of reality, just as we ourselves are shadows."
Michals has been in a relationship with his partner, Fred Gory, for 55 years as of 2015.