Duane Michals (American, b.1932) is a photographic artist who makes innovative use of photograph sequences to depict emotion and universal themes like love, death, and immortality. Michals has also incorporated text into his work. Instead of using text to explain his photography, Michals uses text to give voice to his ideas and thoughts about the pictures. Michals was born in McKeesport, PA. He became interested in art in 1946, while attending classes at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1953, Michals received a BA from the University of Denver, CO, and, after this, he joined the United States Army. Michals joined The Parsons School of Design in 1956, intending to become a graphic designer, but he did not complete his studies. Michals discovered an interest in photography while on a holiday in Russia, and his involvement in photography grew.

Michals worked as a commercial photographer for the magazines Mademoiselle and Esquire, and he covered the filming of The Great Gatsby for Vogue in 1974. In contrast to other photographers of the time, Michals did not have a studio, and he preferred to take portrait photographs of people in their environment. He is noted for two innovations in artistic photography in the 1960s and the 1970s; first, Michals used a series of photographs to tell a story, and second, he gave information that the images could not convey by writing text near his photographs. Michals has acknowledged the influence of various artists, including Lewis Carroll (British, 1832–1898), William Blake (British, 1757–1827), and René Magritte (Belgian, 1898–1967). His work has influenced various artists, who can be referred to as members of the artistic photography movement, including Francesca Woodmann (American, 1958–1981) and David Levinthal (American, b.1949).

Michals has received two awards for artistic photography, a Gold Medal for photography from The National Arts Club in 1994 and a Masters Series Award from The School of Visual Arts in 2000. He also received an honorary DFA from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, in 2001. Michals has made remarkable contributions to the artistic photography movement. The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted his first solo exhibition in 1970. Michals has collaborated with the Pace/Macgill Gallery in New York to exhibit many of his works. He has produced several monographs of his work, including Questions Without Answers (2001) and The House I Once Called Home (2003). His works can be seen in museums all around the world. Michals lives with his partner in New York.

Timeline

1932
Born: in McKeesport, PA
1953
BA from the University of Denver, CO
1975
Awarded CAPS Grant
1976
Recipient, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
1989
Recipient, International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art
2001
Recipient, Foto España International Award
2005
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Mass
Lives and works in New York, NY

Exhibitions

2008
Ian Ritterskamp/Duane Michals, Galerie Clara Maria Sels GmbH, Dusseldorf, Germany
2008
Beautiful People, Centre d'Art la Panera, Lerida, Spain
2007
Warhol sobre Warhol, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain
2006
Contos Dixitais, CGAC - Centro Galego de Art Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
2005
International Center of Photography, New York, NY
2004
“The Ecstasy of Things” at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
1999
Odakyu Museum, Tokyo, Japan
1999
“Cosmos” at the Musée de Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Canada
1999
“The Century of the Body: Photoworks 1900-2000” at the Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland
1999
“From Camouflage to Free Style” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France
1971
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
1970
First solo exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY