Born in 1932 and raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a steelworker family, Michals was a pioneer in the 1960s when he broke away from established traditions of documentary and fine art photography. Rather than respecting the primacy of the photographic print, Michals added hand-written messages and poems to the paper surface. Instead of accepting the widely recognized dominance of a powerful single image, so respected by masters like Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier-Bresson, Michals created sequences of multiple images to convey visual stories. He has always considered himself to be a storyteller and, in fact, introduces himself to public audiences that way when he gives lectures.
Inspired by Surrealist painter Réné Magritte, Michals experimented with double and triple exposures to expand the meaning and interpretation of his subject. These innovations won both derision and acclaim, including a one-person exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1970. Consistent worldwide publication of his photographs in books and journals followed. In the major histories of photography, Michals is cited as being seminally important in his willingness to bend the rules of the medium to suit his own ends. He is credited for broadening our understanding of the philosophical dimensions of photography from the 1960s to today.
This exhibition is organized by Linda Benedict-Jones, curator of photography.