The Cantor Art Center
I’m back from my vacation in Northern California. And what a treat to visit Stanford University campus in Palo Alto.
My favorite, among the many attractions around Stanford University, was the The Cantor Arts Center. Known for its collection of Rodin Sculptures, I became involved with a sculpture in the museums more contemporary exhibit hall of painting and sculpture.
Pictured here with my favorite from the The Cantor Art Center Collection… I bring you a little history of sculptor Duane Hanson.
DUANE HANSON – SCULPTOR
Unlike the two-dimensional paintings, however, Hanson’s three-dimensional objects, life-size and realistic down to the hair on their arms, are uncanny in that they are simultaneously familiar in their lifelike appearance and yet strange as static works of art.
Hanson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., in 1946. He continued his studies at the University of Minnesota and in 1951 completed an M.F.A. in sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Hanson taught for several years in Germany, where he met the German artist George Grygo, whose work in polyester resin and fibreglass had a great influence on his sculptures. Hanson returned to the United States and settled in Atlanta and in 1963 began his own experiments with the material. In 1967 he produced his first life-size work.
Like George Segal, an American sculptor whom Hanson greatly admired, he cast his figures from life. Hanson chose his model carefully and then posed him or her in a manner that would best capture his basic theme.
(His earliest work showed figures in midmotion, but he preferred the effect he obtained with static poses.) Hanson then painted the cast figures, adding such precise details as mosquito bites or varicose veins. Finally, he clothed and accessorized his sculptures, using props as necessary. Often he created veritable tableaux or mini-installations with figures situated in real contexts with real things.
“I’m not duplicating life, I’m making a statement about human values,” Hanson said. “I show the empty-headedness, the fatigue, the aging, the frustration. These people can’t keep up with the competition. They’re left out, psychologically handicapped.”
Hanson’s subjects of the late 1960s were political, including war, gang victims, and the homeless. Though he later tempered his political message, he continued to address the largely thankless roles of the working class—housewives, repairmen, office cleaners, dishwashers, museum guards, and janitors, whose bowed heads and vacant gazes reveal boredom and exhaustion.
Well there you have it. Inspired by my trip to Stanford University and The Cantor Art Center…a pleasant run in with this official looking man standing against the wall, and waiting to meet me. If you haven’t met one of Duane Hanson’s people, make sure you find a museum that has a Duane Hanson sculpture, and spend some time with him, her of them. It’s really fun.
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