At age 81 Duane Michals continues to make work with profundity, insight, humor and magic in a manner that eludes most artists a fraction of his age. His recent show - The Painted Photograph - at the DC Moore Gallery in New York was no exception.
DC Moore writes: Using 19th-century collodion prints on brown or black lacquered iron as
his surface, Michals enriches the original images with oil paint,
altering but not entirely obscuring the sitters’ features. Drawing on
the principals of early photography and modern painting, especially
Surrealism, Michals unites the two disciplines and explores the
uncharted territory he identifies between photography and painting. Each
19th-century image is playfully rejuvenated by the addition of vibrant
color and the artist’s witty allusions to visionaries such as Picasso
and Picabia. In this way, Michals draws our attention to the discrepancy
between a popular medium that required little skill—the tintype—and the
work of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
A renowned innovator, Michals pushes the limits of photography. In past
bodies of work, he has achieved this first by presenting his images in
series, at times narrated with text scrawled directly on the print, and
then further by embracing each imperfection. In this new work, Michals
modifies the images of amateur journeymen, emphasizing the “found
object” quality of these portraits of the working class by floating each
tintype in spare frames to expose their irregular edges. Michals
questions what he describes as “the museum photograph,” or large-format
photography, with his small-scale and intimate images. Combining
antique, personal objects with hand-painted abstract elements, Michals
examines his favorite themes: memory, mortality, love, and loss. The
results are curious, humorous, affectionate, and provocative. There is also a piece on BOMBLOG, Sabine Mirlesse interviews Michals. It's a good read, HERE. And more, from the New York Social Diary, Jill Krementz takes the reader inside Duane Michals' New York townhouse on East 19th Street, HERE.
My pictures explore the strange anthropology of cities. The unusual and overlooked in the human landscape.
I am asking the viewer to question the idea that photographs as documents are complete representations of subject.
I'm interested in the universality of life and the idea of parallel lives - when one thing is happening here, something else is happening over there. The democracy of non-places fascinates me, in the knowledge that inevitably nothing is as it seems.
I work and live between Auckland and Paris.