Thursday, January 04, 2007

Duane Hanson

Every once in awhile I go over to the Cantor Art Center to see the sculpture by Duane Hanson called "Slab Man." This is a life-size, hyper-realistic workman, complete with real hair and exhausted mien. The first time I saw it I was with my parents. At first we all overlooked it, thinking it was a real worker in the gallery, except after awhile we noticed he wasn't moving. We then tried to sneak up on it, because we--or I, at least--decided it was performance art. It had to be a real person performing "statueness," and ready to leap at me when I got too close. It does seem to have movement; maybe it's one's own movement in standing still and staring at it. Also its posture suggests someone stopping to rest, and so breathing.

I'm excited because it turns out instructors at Stanford can arrange gallery talks on pieces of their choosing, so I'm going to have one for my spring quarter students on Slab Man, plus the Gordon Parks and Richard Avedon exhibits which will be up by spring. I keep reminding myself that my class is not just about character and characterization, but portraying life--aliveness.

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