About This Artwork

Duane Stephen Michals
American, born 1932

Death Comes to an Old Lady, 1969

Gelatin silver print
8.6 x 12.7 cm

Gift of Boardroom, Inc., 1992.699.2

Duane Michals initially turned to photography beginning in the late 1950s, following a brief career as a graphic designer. A decade later he began creating narrative sequences that play on themes such as desire, memory, dreams, and mortality. Composed of a succession of events, these staged scenes utilize cinematic language, but ultimately refer to specifically photographic tools. Whereas film stills depict single moments in time, many of Michals’s images show blurred figures, implying movement within each “frame.” Unlike the narrative sequence of a film, these images are open to individual interpretation and yield no overarching storyline. For this sequence, Michals enlisted his grandmother to animate his fascination with mortality, noting, “I am compulsive in my preoccupation with death. In some way, I am preparing myself for my own death.”

— Permanent collection label

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