Duane Michals, NYC, 2001 © Abe Frajndlich
Duane just turned 80, and our gift is an entire edition of La Lettre dedicated to him.
One day in January, 1971, some remarkable photographs arrived at the offices of French PHOTO. They were signed Duane Michals. We published them five times in the following year, and he came to Paris five months later for an exhibition at Robert Delpire.
Duane is one of the greats in the history of photography. He’s a surrealist entertainer bursting with culture and talent, a maniacal provocateur whose answering machine message varies between insults to Republicans (“Please leave a message—unless your name is George Bush”) and nostalgic confessions (“If you’re beautiful, sexy and open-minded, leave a message. I was once like you, and look at me now”). Hiding his anguish beneath layers of irony, schoolyard pranks and a caustic sense of humor, Duane left is mark on every form of photography he touched. Nobody could put one over on him, not once.
For eighty years—eight decades—he gave it his all, selecting his own (mostly unknown) images and writing his own texts. He loves to write and he does it well. As a protean artist, Duane has played many characters in his life. That’s only natural for someone who claims that photography is nothing but a lie.
Happy birthday, Duane.
We are especially grateful to Emily Kloppenpurg and Maya Piergies of the Pace/MacGill Gallery for their contribution.