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Duane Michals

(b. 1932)


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(1932– ).

Photographer. Suggesting frames from black-and-white films, his innovative serial fictions allude to the passage of time through enigmatic, symbolic action. Personal, evocative, even metaphysical, his unconventional format enlarged photography's expressive range in the 1970s. Born in McKeesport, not far from Pittsburgh, he studied art education at the University of Denver. Following graduation in 1953, he served in the U.S. Army for two years before settling in New York. There he studied for a year at the Parsons School of Design (now Parsons, the New School for Design) and began commercial work in photography. Eugène Atget's views of Paris inspired Michals's 1964 New York photographs in the same spirit. Sequences (1970) introduced his early staged work, inspired in part by Balthus's erotically charged, mysterious paintings. Later he wrote or painted on photographs or joined them with drawings. Many other works present witty parodies or engage a playful conceptualism, combining punning titles with quirky images. On occasion, he works quite straightforwardly, as in an early- twenty-first-century project comparing everyday lives of German families with their Kurdish guest-worker counterparts. He has published numerous selections of images, usually accompanied by texts, in extended essays such as Take One and See Mount Fujiyama (1976), The Nature of Desire (1986), Eros and Thanatos (1993), and Questions without Answers (2001).

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.


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