Duane Michals is 90.
In keeping with the creativity that permeates his career, Michals’ ideas, ambitions, and interests remain limitless. Filling the gallery and bursting with color and energy, Duane Michals: Kaleidoscope presents new sculptures, paintings on paper, film, and photographs.
Michals’ work continues to innovate and surprise viewers, as well as himself. His curiosity pushes him to explore the possibilities of different mediums, allowing new boundaries of expression.
“Being uncomfortable is my comfort zone. You are not being creative if you already know what your next piece is going to be…I like doing what I’ve never done before.”
Tall, minimalist wooden sculptures contrast with those made of colorful geometric forms comprised of vignettes of found shapes and objects. Forcing us to take a closer look, the vignettes bring moments of intimacy to these large sculptures. In the films on view, 2022 and Xanadu, Michals also uses these sculptures, combining oscillating, prismatic colors with a moving backdrop that gives a sense of breath and fluidity to otherwise stationary objects.
In his recent photographs, Michals examines contemporary issues through his characteristic use of tongue-in-cheek humor. Future Past Tense is Michals’ take on modern-day office culture where days, weeks, months, and years speed by while we remain consumed with work.
Michals wit and humor also pulses through his paintings on paper, which are saturated with colors, animated text, and pop-culture imagery. Building upon painted photographs begun in the 1980s, the dynamic application of paint here gives Michals an avenue of creative immediacy that cannot be found through photographic processes. Quick, energetic brushstrokes contrast to his carefully executed photographs and films.
These new works are bookended by black-and-white photography from Michals’ earlier years, including sequences and photographs with hand-applied text. Michals' handwritten text on the photographs adds another dimension to the images’ meaning and gives voice to his singular musings, which can be wise, humorous, or poignant.
Duane Michals (b. 1932, McKeesport, PA) first made significant, creative innovations in the field of photography during the 1960s. In an era heavily influenced by photojournalism, Michals manipulated the medium to communicate narratives. Over the past five decades, Michals’ work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, hosted Michals’ first solo exhibition in 1970. In 2008, Michals celebrated his 50th anniversary as a photographer with a retrospective exhibition at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Greece, and the Scavi Scaligeri in Verona, Italy. In 2019, The Morgan Library and Museum in New York exhibited a career retrospective of Michals' work The Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan. His work is currently being celebrated in the touring exhibition Duane Michals: The Portraitist, which originated at DC Moore Gallery in 2015 and traveled to The Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento, CA (2018-2019), The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY (2019), The Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL (2021), and Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden (2022).
Over forty monographs of Michals’ work have been published, including Storyteller: Duane Michals (2014), Duane Michals: Empty New York (2018), and, most recently, Texas (2022).