Duane Michaels receives the DGPh Culture Award


New York-based Duane Michals is honoured with the 2017 Culture Award by the German Photographic Association (DGPh), a distinction that marks the association’s recognition of one of America’s most significant contemporary artists. The award ceremony will take place on 21 October 2017 at the Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur in Cologne. The laudatory speech will be made by Dr. Söke Dinkla, director of Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. The award, which has been handed out annually by the DGPh since 1959, honors significant photographic achievements, particularly in the artistic, humanitarian, social, technical, educational or scientific field.

Highly active to this day, the artist Duane Michals has been working with the medium of photography since the end of the 1950s. Born in 1932 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, USA, he studied Graphic Design at the University of Denver between 1949 and 1953; after that, he served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany, among other places. From 1956 onwards he built on his studies at the Parsons School of Design. Michals took his first shots in 1958 on a journey to Russia. From that moment on, the medium of photography was to become an important means of expression for him, and continues to be so to the present day.

He chooses different forms of presentation, while lending particular importance to the serial-narrative aspect. In 1966, Michals took part alongside Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Danny Lyon and Garry Winogrand in the seminal exhibition “Towards a Social Landscape” at George Eastman House, Rochester. “Stories by Duane Michals” was the title in 1970 of his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It became evident early on that the description “photographer” alone does no justice to Michals’s complex approach, with his imaginatively staged image production. For his concern, again and again, is the staging and heightening of impressions of reality that go beyond the concretely documentary. What chiefly attracts him is not the single image, but, right from the 1960s, the sequence created in black-and-white images, a specific form of visual narrative or photographic “stage play”.