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Pride of Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is paying homage to Pennsylvania native son Duane Michals with a massive retrospective exhibition, which runs through February 16, 2015. “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals” is the largest-ever exhibition of his work. It includes photographs from throughout a career characterized by experimentation with the documentary form through narrative sequences, multiple exposures and his addition of handwritten texts to prints. Michals was born into a family of steelworkers and raised in McKeesport, an industrial city near Pittsburgh. Though he studied graphic design at Parsons as a graduate student, photographs he made on a trip to the Soviet Union in 1958 inspired him to take up photography full time. Two books accompany the exhibition—a show catalogue, and the looser, more personal ABCDuane, in which the photographer shares stories and work, much of it previously unpublished. Many of the stories are highly personal anecdotes, while others reveal something of the his inspiration and philosophy. The exhibition, which includes artist talks, classes and a workshop, also features some of the photographer’s extensive commercial and editorial work. In a story in ABCDuane, Michals talks about a commercial career that “would surprise many,” including a nine-year stint shooting a campaign for Mass Mutual Life Insurance. Michals writes: “I feel proud that I could function in both the art world and commercial world with success, and I do not look down on advertising work.” —Conor Risch

Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals” runs through February 16, 2015 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. The exhibition will travel to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, opening March 7, 2015. A book by the same name is also available through the Carnegie Museum and Prestel. Also available is ABCDuane published by Monacelli Press.

Related: “Duane Michals: Empty New York

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  1. Love Duane Michals’ work! (His “I Build a Pyramid” sequence was one of the first works that got me interested in photography as a student.)

    But, one small correction:
    I believe the last 2 photos shown in this slideshow come from a series called “Chance Encounters” instead of “Change Encounters”…

    And the 2 images selected are, I believe, out of order. The sequence depicts two presumably gay men who pass and cruise each other in an alley. After they pass, they turn around to gauge interest in furthering the encounter…(the image showing the turn and look back should come last in the pair)…

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