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Housepainter II

Duane Hanson American

Not on view

Housepainter II is recognizable as a working-class American, an everyman. At the same time, he stands in the heroic stance of the classical Greek sculpture the Doryphoros, or the Spear Bearer, by Polykleitos (ca. 440 b.c.). Hanson deliberately draws on this paradox to highlight a solitary moment of physical labor as ennobled. The uncanny hyperrealism of Hanson’s painter is intended to inspire both empathy and uneasiness, suggesting a broader cultural malaise. This representation of a black man painting a wall white, dressed in an old ripped shirt with multicolored streaks of paint, is intentionally provocative and symbolically charged, pointing critically to politically urgent issues of racial and economic inequality.

Housepainter II, Duane Hanson (American, 1925–1996), Bronze, polychromed in oil, mixed media, with accessories

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Exhibition view of "Dioramas", Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photo: Aurélien Mole