Their works confuse and touch the observer. Works by the two American artists Duane Hanson (1925 1996) and Gregory Crewdson (born in 1962) are at the centre of the exhibition at the Museum Frieder Burda
in Baden-Baden, to be seen under the title Uncanny Realities from 27 November 2010 to 6 March 2011.
With his realistic sculptures, the American artist Duane Hanson has become a synonym for contemporary realism in contemporary art. Typical motives are average people like housewives, waitresses, car dealers, janitors. Posture and expression of these figures are very close to reality. The photographer Gregory Crewdson arranges his large format pictures with cineastic arrangements and lets the abyss behind every-day life scenes become visible.
Both artists present people in their everyday lives, with hopes, yearnings and broken dreams. People we usually do not notice, aged and marked by reality, by life itself. While Hanson shapes his life-sized figures with a great deal of sympathy, Crewdson rather spreads a gloomy and depressing atmosphere in his pictures of lonely people in their houses, gardens and in streets.
The exhibition at the Frieder Burda Museum presents about 30 figures by Duane Hanson, mainly from the artists estate, in dialogue with 20 large format works from the series Beneath the Roses by the photographer Gregory Crewdson. The photographies are mainly owned by the artist himself.
Duane Hanson Reality to the very last detail
Hanson was born on January 17th 1925 in Alexandria, Minnesota. He is considered to be the founder of hyperrealism. From 1951 on, Hanson first studied at the University of Minnesota, later at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Between 1953 and 1960 he lived in Germany, where he worked as an art teacher in Munich and as a sculptor in Bremerhaven. Hanson got the incentive to work with materials such as polyester resin and fibre glass from the German sculptor George Gyro. In 1961, Hanson returned to his native country, where he began working on his life-sized human figures.
In the 1970ies he shifted the main focus of his work to the portrayal of American daily life, from the constructor to the office worker to the stout sales lady at the flea market. My work is about people living in quiet despair. I show helplessness, tiredness, ageing, frustration, Duane Hanson explains.
In 1972, he participated in the documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany, which helped his breakthrough on an international level. Since the 1990ies, numerous retrospectives of his works have taken place. Today, there are 114 fibre glass and bronze people by Hanson in existence. Duane Hanson passed away in 1996 at the age of 70 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Gregory Crewdson: Puzzling and Fascinating Mystery
Crewdson as well puts the human being at the centre of his mysterious photographs, though somewhat more enigmatic. While Hansons figures touch you in a kind way, Crewdsons photographs rather create a feeling of unease. In Crewdsons works, the dreamy people are locked in their rooms, lost in streets or are sitting lonely in cafés. When observing these pictures, you can feel the decay behind the front. In their faces you can see the traces of life, not as clearly as in Hansons works, but rather subtle.
Gregory Crewdson, born on September 26th 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, produces his pictures with an effort usually found in Hollywood movies only. His works, which sometimes remind us of movies by Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch or Steven Spielberg, tell stories of the American life, giving the observer room for interpretation.
Crewdson already has the picture in his mind, before he arranges it in several days of blocked streets and with a huge crew, perfectly arranged. He produces atmospheres and weather conditions artificially, sometimes by using a huge rain machine. His mysterious pictures keep the balance between familiar and strange, they build up a tension the observer can hardly escape. They make us think about the meaning of life, sometimes even seeming mystical.
Crewdsons father, a psychologist, had his office on the ground floor of his own house. As a child, the artist confesses, he had tried to spy on conversations with patients. Even today, psychoanalysis plays an important role in his art. In his esthetic photographs, kept in dark colours, he produces a level of reality between conscious and unconscious in which the chaos of life comes to a standstill for a brief moment.
The works of both artists impressively reflect the complexity of the human existence.