Whitney Museum of American Art - May 2016
Duane Hanson (1925-1996) - Woman with Dog (1977)
Synthetic polymer and oil on cast polyvinyl with clothing, hair, eyeglasses, watch, shoes, upholstered wood chair, ceramic dog with collar, woven rug, postcard, letters, and envelopes
Like most of Duane Hanson’s sculptures, Woman with Dog projects an uncanny verisimilitude. Hanson often worked on a single figure for up to one year—locating models, making polyvinyl casts directly from their bodies (a method he developed in 1967), assembling and painting the casts, and finally outfitting the sculptures with clothing and accessories. Despite their extreme realism, however, Hanson’s sculptures are not usually likenesses of specific people. The pile of letters in Woman with Dog, for example, is addressed to a Minnie Johnson, but the model for the work was someone else who lived near Hanson’s Florida studio. Woman with Dog thus presents a constructed, even composite character. As Hanson remarked, "I wanted a credible, unpretentious working class type of woman at mail time enjoying the fellowship of a friendly letter and her pet dog."