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Duane Hanson papers, 1935-2006

Biographical 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.