Duane Michals: Words and Images on View at the National Gallery of Canada from 25 June 1999
Ottawa, Canada - June 23, 1999
The National Gallery of Canada is pleased to present Duane Michals: Words and Images, a major exhibition of some 200 photographic works, opening on 25 June and continuing until 12 September 1999. This exhibition was organized and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with guest curator Marco Livingstone. Livingstone, a curator and author living in London, organized a major retrospective of Duane Michals' work that toured several museums and galleries in England in 1984-85, and is the author of The Essential Duane Michals, published in 1997.
" We are pleased to recognize the important contribution of this highly innovative and greatly admired artist", stated Pierre Théberge, Director, National Gallery of Canada. " By extending the traditional boundaries of the photographic practice, Duane Michals has succeeded in producing a body of work that is original and inspiring."
Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Duane Michals took his first amateur photographs during a trip to the Soviet Union in 1958. He settled in New York in the late 1950s and, despite a lack of formal training, became a professional photographer in the fields of business and fashion. His photographs were published in such magazines as Vogue, Esquire, and Mademoiselle, as well as the New York Times. His first exhibition was held at the Underground Gallery in 1963, and another at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970. From then on, he exhibited regularly in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe, as well as at several international events.
Exploring and utilizing all the possibilities of the medium, this self-taught photographer expresses his thoughts and emotions through such themes as the mind, mortality, desire, human relationships, politics, the imagination, time and memory. Reality and imagination are interwoven in his works. "I believe in the invisible," he declares. " I don't believe in the visible...Truth for me is intuition, imagination". A great admirer of artist Rene Magritte, whom he met in 1965 and whose portrait he has taken on many occasions, Michals creates photographic sequences that evoke the complexity and dreamlike qualities of Surrealism. Consisting of up to twenty photographs, these sequences allow him to escape the limits of the single image and let his imagination roam freely. This innovative approach was to have a significant influence on other photographers.
To reinforce the ideas expressed through his photographic images, Michals began in 1966 to incorporate hand-written titles into his works, and later, comments, poetic texts, drawings and even touches of paint. As the exhibition's title suggests, Duane Michal's: Words and Images concentrates on the interplay between text and image that has become an increasingly important feature of his art.
The exhibition features selections from three series of works by Michals completed in the mid-nineties. Salute, Walt Whitman (1996), Questions and Answers (1994), and Upside Down, Inside Out and Backwards (1993). Photographs and writings from as far back as the 1970s have also been chosen as an introductory section to illustrate the thematic consistency and interconnectedness of his various series.
The National Gallery has organized the following program of lectures, gallery visits and a workshop in conjunction with the exhibition:
Meet the Artist
Thursday 24 June at 6 pm - Photography and Reality, lecture by Duane Michals in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Duane Michals: Words and Images. In the Lecture Hall. Free admission.
Thursday 8 July at 6 pm - Fantômes, fantasmes et autres manifestations de l'invisible dans l'oeuvre de Duane Michals, lecture by Vincent Lavoie, Montreal art critic. In French. In the Lecture Hall. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students; $3 for Friends, and free admission for those 17 and under.
Upside Down, Inside Out and Backwards
July 14, 15, 16 - 10:30 am to 4 pm. Three day workshop.
Duane Michals' photographs combine an unusual blend of humour, poetry, fantasy, visual narrative and personal history. Teenagers will use various photographic techniques such as multiple image sequences, double exposure, collage as well as writing to create their own photo-stories. (Participants can bring a 35 mm camera). Materials included. Bilingual. Maximum registration: 20 people. $50 for non-members, $37.50 for members. Advance registration call: (613) 998-8888.
National Gallery of Canada
tel. (613) 990-1985
380 Sussex Drive