Duane Hanson’s Forceful Realism Enthralls Viewers at the Serpentine

Duane Hanson’s lifelike and life-size sculptures come alive in his first survey show in the UK since 1997 on show at Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

In forties and fifties America, Abstract Expressionism ruled. Pop art gave realism a way back in, but even in our own age there is a degree of embarrassment about realism in contemporary art.

The late American realist sculptor Duane Hanson stuck to his guns attempting to re-connect art with everyday life and put the spotlight on a large portion of society that are typically ignored.

During the sixties Hanson’s life-like figures caused widespread controversy shocking viewers with works like Trash (1967); in which a dead baby suffocated with a plastic bag lies within a dustbin amid an umbrella, beer cans and various other outcast items. The latter is the only work displayed from his early period, but is still as shocking as it was nearly half a century ago.

'Trash,' Duane Hanson, 1967
‘Trash,’ Duane Hanson, 1967

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