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Duane Michals (American, b.1932)


Birth Place: McKeesport (Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, United States)


Who is photographer Duane Michals?

Duane Michals is a photographer whose mixed media and photo-sequencing helped to revolutionize American photography in the 20th century. He is almost completely self-taught and has received a prestigious grant from the NEA, worked for the government of Mexico to photograph the 1968 Olympics, and pioneered storytelling in photography. 

He is best known for telling sequential stories through a series of photos, and beginning in the 1960s, also including handwritten text to convey additional information about the subject that might not be privy to the viewer. Michals obsession with narrative is interesting and is seemingly at odds with the rest of his artistic ethos. He declared that political art was essentially useless and that it limited an audience. That said, his photography is frequently associated with gay rights activism because of the themes so often addressed in his work. He has given solo and group exhibitions in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Musee de Beaux-Arts de Montreal, and the Crocker Art Museum. 

What kind of art does Duane Michals make?

Duane Michals is a photographer whose pioneering use of narrative in his work separates and grounds it from many of his artistic peers. Almost completely self-taught, Michals has enthralled audiences since the early 1970s with his pieces which often feature portraits of people in their home, work, or other “natural” environments. This meant that Michals was a natural at creating smart commercial pieces, and as such he worked frequently for Esquire and Mademoiselle magazines. He also famously filmed the production of  the1974 film, The Great Gatsby for Vogue magazine. Since then, he has had his work exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe. 

How did photographer Duane Michals get started?

Though Duane Michals claims that he is mostly self-taught, he certainly had an upbringing full of art. At the age of 14, Michals attended the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh where the young artist took classes in watercolor painting. He went on to receive a Bachelor of the Arts from the University of Denver. In 1956, after leaving the army, Michals attended the Parsons School of Design with the intent to become a graphic designer or artist. He would not complete his studies. It wasn’t until bringing a camera along on a 1958 tour of the USSR that Michals finally found his calling. He quickly mounted exhibitions in the early 1960s which were met with critical acclaim. Michals parlayed that into commercial work in the 1970s, making him a household name by the end of the decade. 

How much are Duane Michals photos worth?

We have very little records on previous Duane Michals sales, though some previous sales suggest that a typical Duane Michals can sell for a few thousand dollars. One piece, a gelatin silver print that is in excellent condition, Who is Sidney Sherman is estimated to sell between $5,000 - $7,000. Duane Michals’ portrait of Andy Warhol could sell for significantly more, somewhere in the $20,000 - $30,000 range. 

Where to buy Duane Michals photographs for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Duane Michals photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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