Duane Michals

Steidl Books publishes ‘Things are Queer’ a retrospective of Duane Michal’s photography

Sep 1, 2020

Spanning half a century, Things are Queer. 50 Years of Sequences brings together a generous selection of Michals’ sequences, including many that have never before been published.

Appearing in 1970, Duane Michals’ Sequences became one of the key photography books of the decade. Michals’ concise narratives, typically composed of six or seven uncaptioned images, were surreal, provocative, mysterious—and sometimes flat-out funny. They fueled a radically new direction for a generation of artists exploring the fictional potential of photography.

Critic Jed Perl, reviewing a traveling retrospective organized by Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museums in 2014, called the sequences of small, black-and-white images “freshly minted fairy tales for adults. These surreal visual fables were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, when the museum was the arbiter of all things photographic. […] With [his] cosmic-comic sequences, Michals became photography’s genial troublemaker, seen by some as thumbing his nose at the lyric realism of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’ and Alfred Stieglitz’s perfect prints. What can all too easily be underestimated is the quick, agile intelligence that Michals brought to his troublemaking. That’s what has given his dissident spirit its staying power.”

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