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April 21 2009 3 21 /04 /April /2009 14:15

One of the most emblematic figures of American sculptors who succeeded to create perfect simulacra of the middle and inferior classes’ every day life, Duane Hanson, is presented from April 22 until May 22 in both locations of the Van de Weghe Fine Art Gallery. This exhibition is the occasion to turn in the direction of the French social theorist Jean Braudrillard, which will highlight the purpose of this hyper real work.

Hanson said he was  “mostly interested in the human form as subject matter and means of expression for my sculpture. What can generate more interest, fascination, beauty, ugliness, joy, shock or contempt than a human being?”
Indeed, all his work (1925-1996) represents in real life size people through a process of life casting: a 3D copy of a living human body, by molding and casting techniques. A part from Bronze, he used materials such as Fiberglass, polyester resin and Bondo that were very innovating in the sixties.  The artist also includes all the accessories, the clothing and every single little details of the skin, repealing or not: he refuses idealism and thus embodies the crude reality of the sculpture and the human.

The figures he creates are a great simulacra of the real, they completely success to fool the viewers: the gestures, the expressions of the faces, and above all the choice of the models, as common people in the situation of the American way of life, is a pure mirror of our daily life.  He recreates scenes of the quotidian, such as shopping in a supermarket, waitress on a break, or “Old Man playing Solitaire” (1973). Those subjects reflect the sad loneliness of men, or denounce phenomenon of consumption, materialism and violence.

His awareness of the socio-political problems of our times made him quite criticized by the media in the 70’s. “The Supermarket Lady” (1969) is one of the most emblematic work he did : It shows an old fat lady, characteristic of the middle class society, smoking a cigarette and walking with an overflowing shopping cart, she symbolizes the consumer society in which we are trapped in. According to Jean Baudrillard, consumption is not, “something individuals do and through which they find enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfillment. Rather, consumption is a collective phenomenon, a coded system of signs that is external to and coercive over individuals [...] The use of that system via consumption is an important way in which people communicate with one another.” An other subject that gives us a feeling of emptiness is the representation of human solitude: “The Delivery Man“ (1970) or “Rita the Waitress” (1975) have this characteristic of showing men who look down the floor, in the vague. They seem melancholic, having no expression of happiness nor sadness, just symbolizing the weight of a hard solitary life. By an accurate observation of human behavior, the works always go straight to our heart, communicating with power our own emotion, past or future.

Because the pieces are an illusion of the real, they erase the division between realty and illusion, real art and artificial world. He was called, with John De Andrea, a Verist . This hyperrealism, which is described by Baudrillard as “the generation by models of a real without origin or reality”, breaks our conception of sculpture, and art in genera, in blurring the frontiers between realty and representation. Hanson’s work is internationally recognized, artists such as Ron Mueck relate their work to him. This exhibition is the occasion to discover the premises of the hyperrealism sculpture, today also largely followed by contemporary Chinese Art.

[Visual : Duane Hanson,  Supermarket Lady, 1969]

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