Duane Hanson, Surfer, 1987, polyvinyl, polychromed in oil, mixed media, with accessories, 66 1/4 × 37 1/2 × 16 inches (168.3 × 95.3 × 40.6 cm). Photo by Rob McKeever
Throughout his forty-year career, Hanson’s uncanny sculptural likenesses of blue-collar workers—repairmen, waitresses, and bricklayers—inhabited exhibition spaces eliciting surprise, embarrassment, amusement, and sympathy from unsuspecting viewers. Although his world-weary figures owe something to Pop and Photorealism, their veracity prompted responses from viewers normally reserved for interactions with other living people. These sculptural illusions, radical in the context of their time, anticipated the later gestures of contemporary provocateurs such as Chris Burden, Maurizio Cattelan, and Fred Wilson.
Duane Hanson was born in 1925 in Alexandria, Minnesota and died in 1996 in Boca Raton, Florida. Hanson received a BA from Macalester College, Minnesota and an MA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. Selected solo exhibitions include Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1975); Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (1977); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1978); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1979); Kunsthaus Wien, Austria (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 ‘30s to the ‘90s,” 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); “Duane Hanson: More than Reality, 2001,” Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2001; traveled to Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan; Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; and Kunsthaus, Zürich); “Duane Hanson: A Midwestern Perspective,” Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2004); “Duane Hanson: Real life,” Michener Museum of Art, Doylestown (2006); “Sculptures of the American Dream,” Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2009, travelled to Arken Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark; Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland; UNESCO Weltkulturerbe Völklinger Hütte, Völklingen, Germany; Fundación Canal, Madrid, Spain); and “Duane Hanson,” Serpentine Gallery, London, England (2015).