What brings the diverse art in Duane Michals: Collector together? Each work was collected—and loved—by renowned photographer and McKeesport native Duane Michals, the subject of the Storyteller exhibition previously on view in the Heinz Galleries. This complementary presentation includes works as wide ranging as an etching made in the 1790s by Francisco de Goya to mid-20th-century photographs by André Kertész to a large serigraph by Chuck Close from 2004. Together, the collection reveals Michals’s selective eye and distinctive taste.
Michals feels deeply attached to this art, which he has lived with in his New York home for decades. He has had personal connections with many of the artists, as sources of inspiration, or even as the subjects of his own photography. “They became … mentors in a way… people who shared my life. I know that sounds very strange, but really everything you’re going to see in these rooms are major discoveries for me and thrills—literally thrills.” In his own career, Michals broke with tradition by integrating handwritten texts on photographic prints and using multiple images to convey visual narratives. Connections between Michals’s photographs and the works he collects quickly emerge, such as the interweaving of image and text and the value of humor, imagination, intimacy, and the hand of the artist.
Michals’s own sensibilities have guided the groupings here, which in some cases replicate actual arrangements in his home. All of these works are generous gifts from Michals to the museum. As a collection, they represent a private and personal point of view. As distinctive, individual works of art, they enrich the museum’s holdings and become treasures to share with the public.