Biographical notes

Duane Michals (b. 1932, McKeesport, Pennsylvania) receives a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver in 1953 and works as a graphic designer until his involvement with photography deepened in the late 1950s. During a trip to the then U.S.S.R. he takes a series of portraits that will achieve immediate success due to their disarming simplicity. Michals makes significant, creative strides in the field of photography during the 1960s. In an era heavily influenced by photojournalism and its aesthetic, Michals manipulates the medium to communicate narratives. The sequences, for which he is widely known, appropriate cinema’s frame-by-frame format. An innovation that breaks up the canons of the academic photography and that was completely rejected by his colleagues. It is a gap that will grow when Michals also incorporates text as a key component in his single and multipart works. Rather than serving a didactic or explanatory function, his handwritten text adds another dimension to the images’ meaning and gives voice to Michals’ singular musings. Balancing fragility and strength, gravity and humor, Michals’ work represents universal themes such as love, desire, memory, death, and immortality.

Over the past decades, Michals’s work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, hosted Michals’s first solo exhibition (1970), and a year later the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, mounted another (1971). More recently, he has had one-person shows at the Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid (1998), at the Odakyu Museum, Tokyo (1999) and at the International Center of Photography, New York (2005). Since 1998 Admira presents Duane Michals’ solo exhibitions in Italy and Europe, among which Fotografien 1958-1998 at Fotografie Forum Frankfurt (2000), Dr. Duanus’ at Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milano (2002), Time is now at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography (2008), Duane Michals 50 at Centro Internazionale di Fotografia Scavi Scaligeri in Verona (2008), at Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi (2009) and at Preus Museum di Horten (2010), Fotografien von 1958 – 2013 at NRW Forum in Duesseldorf (2014).

In recognition of his contributions to photography, Michals has been honored with a CAPS Grant (1975), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1976), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art (1989), the PHotoEspaña International Award (2001), and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Mass.(2005).

Michals’ work belongs to numerous permanent collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Michals’ archive is housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

Monographs of Michals’ work include Homage to Cavafy (1978); Nature of Desire (1989); Duane Michals: Now Becoming Then (1990); Salute, Walt Whitman (1996); The Essential Duane Michals (1997); Questions Without Answers (2001); The House I Once Called Home (2003); Foto Follies / How Photography Lost Its Virginity on the Way to the Bank (2006),Duane Michals 50 (2008), ABCDuane and Storyteller (2014). One of the most recent volumes is Duane Michals, published in 2017 on occasion of the homonymous travelling exhibition organized by Fundación MAPFRE and curated by Enrica Viganò.

Duane Michals lives and works in New York City.

All images © Duane Michals.