new-york

Duane Michals

Sidney Janis Gallery

Duane Michals’ high-brow images and scribbly, semidiaristic texts have secured him a peculiar spot in the annals of American photography. With its blatant sentimentality, soft-focus homoeroticism, and tendency to inflate confessional material with metaphors lifted from Greek and American mythology, Michals’ work has never fit neatly into his medium’s general history. His reputation is highest among devotees and collectors of gay male photography, where his idiosyncracies are considered central to a sexually confident romanticism that extends back to early cult figures such as Willem von Gloeden and Herbert List. Michals is something of a crossover artist, but, unlike Robert Mapplethorpe and Jimmy de Sana, who built mainstream fine-art reputations, his nongay following tends to be among consumers of the coffee-table book.

This show of recent photographs, entitled “Upside Down, Inside Out,

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