Review of Duane Hanson’s Exhibition at The Museum of Florida Art.

I’m reviewing the Duane Hanson exhibition that is presently showing at The Museum of Florida Art in Deland, FL.  It is rare to see an exhibition of a high caliber contemporary artist near Orlando.  Central Florida in particular is a strange place when it comes to art.  Being so close to Miami, the gateway to the southern hemisphere, and the host of Art Basel, you would expect to see more exciting shows presented in the vicinity, but I will explore this issue in a later post.  At the moment I would like to keep this post focused on Duane Hanson.

What made his work important in the history of art is that he took the mundane, and the controversial of everyday situations and made them into realistic life size sculptures, but also by making them into life size he elevated his subject matter to a level that was reserved previously for heroes, gods, and important people in history.   Also by making us aware of these figures it makes us focus at ourselves as a whole.

I have previously seen only one sculpture of Duane Hanson, The Janitor at the Milwaukee Art Museum, so I was kind of excited to see more of his work in a group showing.  What was being shown was his series of sculptures he did depicting the mundane everyday characters of the United States, and not his controversial work of drug users and police riots.  The museum is carpeted throughout in a neutral brownish tone including the walls.  The space of the museum echoes the same overwhelming mundane feeling as the sculptures, which adds to the viewing sensation.  The only problem I have with his sculptures is the hair; it’s very unrealistic compared to the rest of the sculpture.   They shout wigs or old Barbie doll hair.  The pieces seem to be collecting dust and it’s especially noticeable in the hair and skin.  This must be a problem for conservators when it comes to maintaining these works of art.  Also included in this show were polaroids of the models posing for the sculpture, so it’s nice to see the inspiration behind these figures.   If you have never seen Duane Hanson’s work I highly recommend it.

Please see link to view Duane Hanson’s artwork.