Duane Hanson (January 17, 1925 - January 6, 1996) was an American artist based in South Florida, a sculptor known for his lifecast realistic works of people, cast in various materials, including polyester resin, fiberglass, Bondo and bronze.
He was born in Alexandria, Minnesota. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in 1946 and his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1951. From 1953 to 1960, Hanson taught art in Munich and Bremerhaven, Germany. From 1962-1965 Hanson was a professor of art at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hanson’s work has been shown internationally in many important exhibitions including two solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum (1978 and 1998),‘Five Artists and the Figure’ at the Whitney Museum in New York, a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery in London, the 1995 Monte Carlo Sculpture Biennale and ‘Pop Art: 1955-1970’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
Starting in the mid-1980s, his works were cast in bronze. His works are exact down to every detail; made via lifecasting, the pieces created from epoxy resin or bronze, and the whole sculpture painted to faithfully resemble a living person. This combined with hand-picked wigs, clothing and accessories means that Hanson’s works are perfect simulacra, often fooling gallery visitors with their ordinary appearance and casual stances.
Hanson chose to sculpt working class citizens, unremarkable people going about their business transformed into highly complex works of art – he gave these overlooked, generalized people a singular identity, highlighting their activities and societal roles. Duane Hanson and John DeAndrea are the two sculptors most associated with photorealism. Both are famous for amazingly lifelike painted sculptures of average people that were complete with hair and real clothes. They were called Verists. Today the Australian artist Ron Mueck's work relates to Hanson and DeAndrea. Hanson is recognised as one of the most accomplished hyper-real sculptors ever.