Van de Weghe Fine Art is pleased to present concurrent exhibitions of sculpture by Duane
Hanson at the Madison Avenue and Chelsea locations this spring. Works from the Estate,
represented by the gallery, as well as several works culled from private collections will be on
view, spanning the artist’s thirty-year career as one of the most important and influential
In spite of his appeal, Hanson remains something of a singular artist. Trained at Cranbrook at
the height of abstraction in the U.S., his embrace of the figure, naturalistic representation,
and the forthright socio-political consciousness in his work were somewhat radical for the
time. Indeed, his earliest pieces from the ‘60s often met with significant resistance from both
the public and media, as it frankly addressed such issues as war, racism, and poverty.
Hanson’s use of materials – the progressive, “new” media of fiberglass and polyester resin -
was equally remarkable. Using friends, family members, and locals he met at a nearby
community college, Hanson built strong relationships with his models, who would undergo
the time-consuming procedure of life-casting each part of the body. The level of detail in
the work is truly extraordinary, from the moustache and myopic gaze of Man with Camera,
1991, and the subtle, hand-painted rash dotting the face of Bus Stop Lady, 1983, to the
weary expression of Rita the Waitress, 1975. While Hanson maintains affinities with his
contemporaries working in the genres of Pop Art, nouveau réalisme, and Photorealism, his
work continues to inform that of artists practicing today such as Evan Penny and Ron Mueck.
Hanson’s work, however, ultimately resonates with a pathos rarely seen in contemporary art.
The present exhibitions begin with Hanson’s work from the early ‘70s, when he channeled the
overtly political slant of his ’60s art into a focus on the more subtle, but no less powerful
intrigue of plain, everyday people. These individuals – a woman waiting unexcitedly for the
bus, a heavyset lady overburdened with shopping bags, a tired traveler resting on his
luggage – while unremarkable in appearance, attract us precisely because of their
everyday-ness. We can examine these figures that seem to be caught in a moment of
reflection, bearing life’s hardships and banalities, in a way that is not permitted in our daily
interactions with others. In Tourists II, 1988, one of the artist’s most iconic works, we are
presented with an overweight couple clad in Hawaiian shirt and summer stripes, themselves
voyeurs, gazing indifferently at what lies before them. This work highlights the relationship of
the viewer to the object, prompting us to reflect on the difference between looking and
Hanson’s work is currently on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in the exhibition, Duane
Hanson: Sculpture and Photographs 1978-1995, through April 26. This summer his work will be
shown at the Benaki Museum in Athens in Duane Hanson Sculptures of the American Dream,
an exhibition that will tour to additional European venues through 2010.
Van de Weghe Fine Art represents the Estate of Duane Hanson.
Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 – 6:00 pm, and by appointment.