Empty New York III

Empty New York

Duane Michals
Preview evening Friday 5th April
Exhibition 6th April to 4th May 2019

’Beautifully realised and now achingly nostalgic, the photographs in Empty New York show us the city frozen in time, just as Eugène Atget, one of Michals’ heroes, commemorated Paris in the early years of the twentieth century. A social history and also a photographic reportage, Duane Michals’ pictorial poem reminds us with every frame how he has earned his place among the greats of American photography.’

From the moment the Pennsylvania-born Duane Michals settled in Manhattan in 1956  the metropolitan environment in which he found himself exerted a powerful spell on his creative imagination. In 1964 he began to document New York City in a tantalisingly unfamiliar guise, virtually empty of inhabitants at dawn or dusk. In deeply evocative black-and-white images he depicted storefronts and interiors; deserted stations, subway cars, funfairs and arcades; derelict markets, vacant theatres and diners. Day after day Michals would rise at dawn to capture unpeopled sidewalks, bridges and parking lots, architectural fragments, the Hudson River, cityscapes in the mist, skyscrapers and urban nature reflected in the puddles of Central Park.


The House I Once Called Home 2003

Michals was 70 when he conceived the extended sequence of photographs and poetic texts that constitute The House I Once Called Home. He returned to his native Pittsburgh to revisit the house in which he was born just a few years after the death of his mother. Its deteriorated state proved a poignant focus, prompting reveries on mortality and the succession of generations.

Duane Michals (born 1932) is an American photographer. Michals’ innovative, subtle techniques have been highly influential to many photographers for decades, and his works are in major international collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago; International Museum of Photography, Rochester; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington; the Australian National Gallery of Art; the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; National Gallery of Canada; and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam. Michals received a BA from the University of Denver in 1953 and worked as a graphic designer until his involvement with photography deepened in the late 1950s.


He is famous in particular for his photo sequences and his portraits: his subjects have included Magritte, Duchamp, de Kooning, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Cornell, and Andy Warhol. He has had many museum retrospectives throughout the world, and is represented in the USA by Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and in the UK by Hamiltons in London. In recognition of his contributions to photography, Michals has been honored with a CAPS Grant (1975), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1976), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art (1989), the Foto España International Award (2001), and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Mass. (2005). He currently lives and works in New York City.