Written by Kellie A. Hanna
I became interested in realistic sculpture from Duane
Hanson, and I became interested in Duane Hanson after seeing "Bowery
Derelicts" (1969-1970) in a book. The sculpture is
housed in Germany at the Neue Gallery, and the closest I could get to the piece
is from a book. Still, I found the sculpture captivating.
It's a life-sized piece, crafted in polyester and fiberglass, and
is polychromed. It's a haunting depiction of three homeless men lying
and sitting half-prone amid strewn garbage; each has his own bottle of
alcohol. It demands the viewer's attention.
Hanson was born in Alexandria, Minnesota in 1925, and began
working as a realist in his early teens. He once said of art,
"I did all kinds of things...I got to the point where I said...so
what? They were pretty statements that didn't amount to much. It was
all too concerned with aesthetics...there was no attempt to communicate
any deep feeling."
Hanson created his first figure in polyester resin and fiberglass,
cast from a clay model, in 1967. He eventually decided to forgo
modeling in clay and instead took a plastic impression directly from a
He used his sculpture to express social commentary and force it on
the viewer. His themes range from violence, to death and dying, to war,
and those present in "Bowery Derelicts," alcoholism and social