Duane Michals was born in 1932 in McKeesport, PA. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver in 1953 and worked as a graphic designer until he started taking pictures seriously in the late 1950’s.
Without formal photographic training, Michals broke new ground in an era dominated by documentary photo-journalism. In the 1960’s he used the medium to tell stories in narrative form. The sequences, borrowing from cinematic frame-by-frame technique, communicated ideas through a number of panels, detailing either temporal progression or constantly altering perceptions of everyday objects.
Early on, Michals also began to incorporate text into his sequences and single images. Far from a pedantic interpretation of his own work, these captions either told stories or posed question in such ways as to expand the scope of the picture. Through out his career, Michals has used these deceptively simple methods to contemplate with child-like fascination subjects as universal as love, loss, innocence and immortality.
His work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad since 1963 in institutions as diverse as the Art Institute of Boston, Boston, MA.; the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; the International Center of Photography, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland; Museum of Photography, Antwerp Belgium; and the Sprengle Museum , Hanover, Germany. Michals’ photographs can also be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and numerous international collections including the Moderna Museet, Stockholm , Sweden; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan; the Australia National Gallery of Art, Auckland, Australia, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Cleveland Museum of Art and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
Duane Michals’ archive is housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.
Michals’ most recent book is Questions Without Answers (Twin Palms), 2001. Other recent monographs include the Essential Duane Michals (Bulfinch, 1997) Salute, Walt Whitman (Twin Palms, 1996) and Duane Michals: Now Becoming Then (Twin Palms), 1990.