Duane Hanson: Proving That Society Reflects Art, Just As Art Reflects Society
Duane Hanson, super-realist sculptor, has for years mystified America with his startling, lifelike images. Hanson, a native of Alexandria, Minnesota, was born January 17, 1925. At a young age he fastened onto art through crayons, scissors and the single art book his local library held. After going through four different art schools, two marriages and several teaching jobs, Hanson decided he wanted to move to New York and try to make a name for himself.
Hanson has not always known the success that now supports himself, his wife and two children. It was not until 1969 that Hanson held his first one-man show in New York City. It was there that Hanson displayed his human-clone sculptures and was told by dealer Ivan Karp that he would be "famous but not rich." Hanson sold his first sculpture there for $1,200.
Today his pieces sell for more than $35,000 and are exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the world.
It was not mere luck that brought Hanson to the fame he knows today. Throughout his career, Hanson switched themes several times in his sculpture to constantly provoke his audiences and provide commentary on social issues. In general, there have been three major phases in his career. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these themes through their change in style and emphasis, the statements they make about society, and the meaning they communicate.
In 1967, prompted by the influence of sculptor George Segal and the controversial abortion issue, Duane Hanson made his first polyester resin and fiberglass sculpture titled Abortion. Abortion depicts the body of an adolescent female lying on an operating table, having died from an illegal abortion attempt. This piece was Hanson's way of communicating...