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Duane Hanson papers, 1935-2006

Duane Hanson papers, 1935-2006

Hanson, Duane, 1925-1996


Collection Information

Size: 12.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Florida realist sculptor Duane Hanson date from 1935-2006 and measure 12.9 linear feet. Hanson's career is documented through biographical information, personal business records, correspondence, subject files, artwork, writings, printed materials, and photographs. There are numerous letters from the OK Harris Gallery and Ivan Karp, Dr. Martin Bush, at Witchita State University, and Dewey Hanson.

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence and includes personal letters, fan mail, and correspondence with museums, galleries, universities, friends, and colleagues. Subject files also include scattered correspondence but typically contain printed materials and scattered business records. There is a slight overlap between the correspondence files and the subject files.

Biographical materials include a guestbook spanning 1978-1994 from many exhibitions. Also found are four videos, mostly of Hanson's television appearances and exhibitions. Personal business records contain loan records, damage reports, and expense records. Scattered writings include statements by Hanson about his artwork. Also found within the papers is one sketchbook and a few loose sketches. Printed materials largely consist of clipping files and exhibition catalogs. There are photographs are of Duane Hanson and his father Dewey, and of Hanson depicted with various works of art, as well as slides.

Biographical/Historical Note

Duane Hanson (1925-1996) was a sculptor in Florida.


Duane Hanson's widow, Wesla Hanson, donated his papers in two accretions in 1997 and 2006. Additions are expected.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Duane Hanson Papers, 1935-2006, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Sculptor and educator Duane Hanson (1925-1996) spent most of his career in South Florida and is best known for his hyper-realist sculptures of people. Duane Hanson was born January 17, 1925 in Alexandria, Minnesota. His family later moved to Parkers Prairie, Minnesota where he created his first sculpture in wood at the age of 13. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and completed his education with an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. During school and after, Hanson created realistic and grotesque sculptures of taboo subjects and other sculptures depicting physically violent occurrences.
In 1962, Hanson accepted a teaching position at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia where he remained for three years. At Oglethorpe, Hanson received grant funds to create his most well-known works out of resin and fiberglass. He moved to South Florida in 1965, where he continued to sculpt life-size human forms with detailed features and accessories.
Art dealer Ivan Karp at O.K. Harris Gallery took an interest in the works and represented Hanson, who moved to New York City to continue his career. He exhibited at numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and Germany. In 1973, Hanson returned to South Florida where he would remain for the duration of his life. His retained the national spotlight, however, and was very active in the Florida art scene. He was named Florida Ambassador of the Arts in 1983. Duane Hanson married his second wife, Wesla in 1968, with whom he had two children. Also, he had two children from a previous marriage which ended in divorce. Hanson died of cancer in January of 1996.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material 1978-1994 (Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Personal Business records, circa 1960s-1996 (Box 1-2; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1963-2006 (Box 2-8; 5.8 linear feet)
Series 4: Subject Files, 1935-1996 (Box 8-9; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 5: Writings and Notes, 1970-1988 (Box 9; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Artwork, circa 1980-circa 1984 (Box 9; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1958-1994 (Box 9-14; 4.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1978-1990 (Box 14; 0.1 linear feet)
Duane Hanson's widow, Wesla Hanson, donated his papers in two accretions in 1997 and 2006. Additions are expected.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Hanson in 2012, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles and dates, but not arranged further. Folder titles were mostly transcribed from original folder headings and the original order was maintained. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders. Staples and other fasteners were not removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Duane Hanson papers, 1935-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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