Duane Hanson was born in Alexandria, Minnesota, on January 17, 1925. He received his BA from Macalester college in 1946 and his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1951. From 1953 to 1960, Hanson lived in Munich and Bremerhaven, Germany, working as an art teacher for the U.S. Army dependent school system. It was in Germany that he began to experiment with synthetic media, in particular polyester resin and fiberglass -materials that would become his signature media.
Hanson moved back to America in 1960 and from 1962-1965 he was an art professor at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. During this period he was commissioned to produce several large decorative sculptures for the exterior of the university building. During the 60's he was conceiving his sculptures in the spirit of contemporaneous social protest and political agitation movements.
Hanson then moved to New York in 1969, his works were shown in solo exhibitions in New York and Germany. He created more than 25 sculptures over the next four years. His "sculptures of life" convey the emptiness, boredom, and loneliness of everyday life. Hanson's work depicts the clichés of American lower and middle class-life. He transformed the reality of life into the realism of art. We all come across Hanson's people every day life at the post office or gas station, or while walking in town.
"I'm not duplicating life, I'm making a statement about human values," Hanson said. "I show the empty-headedness, the fatigue, the aging, the frustration. These people can't keep up with the competition. They're left out, psychologically handicapped."
In 1974, a retrospective of Hanson's work toured through Europe including Stuttgart, Berlin and Denmark. The tour was a great success and in 1976 his work went on a major tour of museums in America which was also well received by the public. A large one man show was held at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. in 1978 and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1979. In 1983 Hanson was named Florida ambassador of the arts.
Duane Hanson battled cancer since 1971, he died on January 6, 1996 at the age of 70 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Duane Hanson painting on "Woman with Child in a Stroller", 1985
"Vendor with Walkman"