Duane Michals – by Robert Trudell
Born in 1932, Duane Michals still recognizes the stage Philadelphia set for him; he honors his birth State’s heritage by making a rare appearance at the opening of his photographic Exhibit. With a laundry list of worldwide shows from Paris to Tokyo, Duane spent little time chasing them.
I recall my Black & White Film Photographic Art Professor, Joe Medina’s willingness to do near anything to listen to a Duane Michals lecture. This raised my interest in Michals’ technical and artistic skill.
Michals earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree from the University of Denver in 1953. He leveraged the skills learned there and the Parsons School of Design to work as a Graphic Designer until his photographic pursuits deepened. In the early 1960’s he defined himself creating cartoon like stories with the addition of text to the sequenced photo frames. The twists he adds take our minds on a journey into the Worlds he creates with the narratives.
The pictures Duane forms are less about a visual image and more about expressing feelings. He reveals elusive concepts like Death and Desire with his poetic marriages. Sheer Poetry might describe some engaging arrangements while others show like silly stories. And, hey, I’m not saying silly stories are a bad thing.
2-dozen books tell the tale of his photographic journey that began in the USSR in 1958 and continues in Los Angeles, California today. Permanent Gallery collections dot the Globe in Jerusalem, New York, Stockholm, Kyoto and Philadelphia. His archives remain at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg.
Duane Michals uses more than pictures to tell a story, he adds words. Recognized as a renowned artist, his commercial work includes impressive gigs like the cover of The Police “Synchronicity”, Vogue and Life magazine.