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Duane Hanson, Supermarket Lady



It is a sculpture made by Duane Hanson in 1969. The artistic movement of this work is hyperrealism (an American art movement that appeared at the end of the 60s which consists of representing elements with an almost photographic realism in an impersonal and smooth way).

II.Who is the artist?

Duane Hanson was born in 1925 in Minnesota, United States. He studied art and taught in the United States before taking up sculpture. Finally, he would weld them together, comb them, add a wig, clothes and accessories. He was considered the leader of hyperrealism. He participated in Dokumenta 5 (major exhibition of contemporary art) in 1972 where he became known worldwide. He died in 1996. But all his life he took a critical look at "the American way of life" and particularly liked to use lower- and middle-class people as motifs to show the emptiness of their existence and their loneliness.


The historical context of the work is the appearance of the first "supermarkets" and the popularization of the automobile. The 1960s also saw the revolution of mass consumption.


This work is currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Aachen, Germany.


A work in the same genre: Rita, a Hispanic waitress, depicted in the same genre as supermarket lady, with coldness and without artifice, just denouncing the daily life of these people without any particular staging.


III.Description of the work


Its dimensions are life-size,166 x 130 x 65cm.

It's a sculpture in the genre of hyperrealism.


The sculpture is made of painted fiberglass and polyester, with real clothes, a shopping cart with product packaging. Its main material is polyester fiber, which is then painted with acrylic so that no detail is forgotten. To make it, he molded his model's body with plaster strips, poured polyester into the mold and then reinforced it with fiberglass. He then satinized the statue's skin to give a more real look. She wears real clothes, either given by the model or bought at a thrift store.


This work depicts a woman in her forties, overweight and pushing a shopping cart overflowing with products in a supermarket. She is dressed in slippers, her curlers on her head and the cigarette at the corner of her lips. She wears a blue mini skirt, a pink t-shirt, a rather flashy necklace and a black handbag.


Use of the work

The custom is to denounce the way of life of the middle and lower classes, to show their daily life by simply representing, without any particular staging, just the raw truth.




This sculpture by Hanson shows the beginnings of consumer society and

American society in the 1960s. In the 1960s, the United States experienced the revolution of mass consumption. The appearance of the supermarket makes it possible to do all these things.

Shopping in the same place, which is a revolution because before you had to go

in specialized shops for each area (butcher, bakery, grocery store,...)


The shopping cart now replaces the basket, it is larger, more containing. It's filled

provisions of all kinds, which symbolize America. (Coke, Cookies,...)


It is no longer necessary to do your own cooking, it is now the expansion of the

Ready-made (pizza in the shopping cart, ready meals). It is also a transformation of food. To transport all these provisions, this woman will need a car, in the 60s it is the popularization of the automobile, people from an average background will soon own their own car.


She wears curlers and slippers, an attitude out of place in France at that time (still today). But in the United States, it's the daily routine, people you might meet at the supermarket. The woman is depicted realistically, but with a casual realism. Slippers,

curlers and cigarette lips show a different culture and social life from Europe, where it is unthinkable to go out in this state and with this attitude. The outfit and accessories also show an average but not low social level because this woman has enough money to buy everything she has in her shopping cart.


The woman depicted here is obese, she shows the abundance of the consumer society.

It also shows the problems of this society of overconsumption. You have to buy more and more, more and more things that you don't really need.

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