260109: Kunsthalle Krems: Duane Hanson – Sculptures of the American Dream

Kunsthalle Krems: Duane Hanson – Sculptures of the American Dream Hell inside of me If Duane Hanson (1925 – 1996) would have lived to see this annus horribilis, which not only led the US economy into a recession, he would – as an artist - have been delighted with the amount of people, who were suddenly left with nothing: these homeless former house owners, headless investment bankers, unemployed automobile producers, etc. The economic catastrophe would have bestowed him with an infinite number of new loser-types; and Hanson’s portraits always aimed at those, whose dream of the American way of life – similar to a small private speculative bubble – had irrevocably burst. This retrospective with its 30 works lets us enter into a world, which could not be more dismal. An under-world, a hell of authenticity, inhabited by the mediocre representatives of the American middle- and working class, who are lonely and isolated, introverted and paralyzed in their own existence, and an after-world on account of a condition we would describe as “too-late”. Hanson’s work depicts the quiet survivors of their personal catastrophe, prototypes of the American loser who fell by the wayside during their pursuit of happiness. A contest pursued by many people, because they carelessly believe in the unattainable promises made by the world of consumerism. Hanson, to avoid the danger that his creations could by shrugged off as mislead consumer-idiots, bestowed them with an inner-eye, a soul. An observant viewer, who is not deceived by their first satirical semblance, will easily notice that all of the figures are other-worldly and withhold any communication by directing their look towards the inside. This effect, which shapes individuals out of the potentially stereotype figures, deserving our empathy and compassion. But it is also an effect, which wears off over time, especially if we are faced with an army of lost souls, who all want our sympathy at once. Towards the end of the exhibit one feels like wandering through a Richard Yates’ novel; Yates, who also attempted to describe the great American disillusionment, but luckily did not forget to impregnate the scene with distraught humour, which makes everything so much more bearable; or one felt like being in an anomaly of Madame Tussaud’s – where not the winners, but the losers were haunting you. Peter Kunitzky Kunsthalle Krems 3500 Krems, Franz-Zeller-Platz 3, until 01.03.09 www.kunsthalle.at

Kunsthalle Krems
3500 Krems, Franz-Zeller-Platz 3
Tel: +43-2732 90 80 10, Fax: +43-2732 90 80 11
Email: office@kunstalle.at
Öffnungszeiten: Di - So und Mo wenn Feiertag 10-18 Uhr; in den Wintermonaten 10-17 Uh

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