Duane Michals

Duane Michals is another photographer that I am researching for Assignment 2. Michals was born in 1932 and continually baffled the photography scene by breaking all normal photographic rules and traditions of fine art and documentary. He preferred to look inwards and make the images in his imagination of the unseen like life and death. He never studied photography.

So always be open to new experiences and once they occur, don’t be afraid because being creative is based on fear—you don’t know what you’re doing. If you already know what you’re doing, you’re not really being creative. Creativity is the discovery that you make in the process of evolving.

Duane Michals, American Photo (2014)

A lot of Michals’ photos are deep or profound, especially his sequences series. In his Death Comes to the Old Lady, his subject, the old lady is seated in an arm chair facing the camera. Behind her in the passage we see a slight dark shadow – the foreshadowing of death approaching. Through a series of photos we see an ominous, blurred man dressed in black approach her from behind, lay his hand on her shoulder as if to summons her and the final photograph, sans the man in black, shows the old lady blurred as if she is ascending into heaven from her chair. The vertical arrangement of the photographs adds to the sense of disquiet as one naturally wants to read from left to right. This arrangement also adds to the motion suggested throughout the series.

His photographs capture ideas rather than straight scenes and one can see that he is continually pushing the boundaries of human expectation, making his viewers work for the hidden nuances of his photographs. Hopefully I can experiment successfully with a few of his techniques for my assignment.

Reference List

Michals, Duane (1969). Death Comes to the Old Lady [online]. Museum of Modern Art. Available from: http://www.moma.org/collection/works/44090 [Accessed 7 September 2015]

Reznik, Eugene (2014). Interview: Duane Michals on 50 Years of Sequences and Staging Photos [online]. American Photo. Available from: http://www.americanphotomag.com/interview-duane-michals-50-years-sequences-and-staging-photos [Accessed 7 September, 2015]


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