Contemplative, confessional, and comedic, the art of Duane Michals exerts an appeal that transcends the conventional audience of photography. Since the early 1960s, Michals has worked past what he sees as the limitations of the camera: he writes in the margins of his prints, creates sequences of images that explore intangible human dilemmas (doubt, mortality, desire), and derives poetic effects from technical errors such as double exposure and motion blur. Illusions of the Photographer combines a full career retrospective—the first on Michals to be organized by a New York City museum—with an artist’s-choice show, as Michals plumbs the Morgan’s vaults for treasures both revered and long-forgotten.
Michals leads viewers on a tour of his mind as he engages heroes and mentors as varied as William Blake, Edward Lear, and Saul Steinberg and matches wits with stage designers, toy-makers, and his fellow portraitists of the past and the present.
The exhibition will be accompanied by screenings of short films—Michals’ preferred medium in recent years. An audioguide narrated by the artist will compliment a wide-ranging interview in the exhibition’s catalog.
Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan is made possible by the support of the Thompson Family Foundation.
Duane Michals (b. 1932), The Illuminated Man, 1968. Gelatin silver print. Purchased on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund 2018.37. © Duane Michals, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.