Duane Hanson

Duane Hanson

Hanson, Duane, 1925-96, American sculptor, b. Alexandria, Minn. A member of the superrealist movement of the late 1960s and early 70s, Hanson produced life-sized tableaux of realistic figures and props. In the 1960s these frequently depicted violent, politically charged events, such as in Vietnam Scene (1969). Many of the eerily realistic single figures for which he is best known, e.g., his 1970 works Hard Hat and Supermarket Shopper, portray familiar types of modern Americans, and employ polyester resin figures and items of real clothing and other everyday objects. His work has been praised by some for its underlying humanity or its implied satire and criticized by others for its brand of deadpan dullness.

Duane Hanson (January 17, 1925January 6, 1996) was an American artist based in South Florida, a sculptor known for his lifecast realistic works of people, cast in various materials, including polyester resin, fiberglass, Bondo and bronze. His work is often associated with the Pop Art movement, as well as hyperrealism.


Hanson grew up in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in 1946 and his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1951. From 1953 to 1960, he taught art in Munich and Bremerhaven, Germany. And from 1962 to 1965 he was a professor of art at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Career and style

Starting in the mid-1980s, Hanson's works were cast in bronze. His works are exact down to every detail; made via lifecasting, the pieces created from epoxy resin or bronze, and the whole sculpture painted to faithfully resemble a living person. This combined with hand-picked wigs, clothing and accessories means that Hanson's works are perfect simulacra, often fooling gallery visitors with their ordinary appearance and casual stances.

Hanson chose to sculpt working-class citizens, unremarkable people going about their business. In transforming them into highly complex works of art, he highlighted the activities and societal roles of everyday people. Duane Hanson and John DeAndrea are the two sculptors most associated with photorealism. Both are famous for amazingly lifelike painted sculptures of average people, complete with hair and real clothes. They were called Verists. Today the Australian artist Ron Mueck's work relates to Hanson and DeAndrea. Hanson is recognised as one of the most accomplished hyper-real sculptors.


Hanson’s work is represented in most major modern collections. His work has been shown internationally in many important exhibitions, including two solo retrospectives at New York City's Whitney Museum in 1978 and 1998, Five Artists and the Figure at the Whitney, a solo show at London's Saatchi Gallery, the 1995 Monte Carlo Sculpture Biennale, and Pop Art: 1955–1970 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

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