Help me write Duane Michals' story!


The project

Duane Michals, the Storyteller

A short story: the fluctuating relationships between texts & images...



This book is a manifesto. A manifesto for a contemporary re-reading of  Duane Michals' photographs. This 83 year-old photographer created a unique work, mixing writing, photography and painting. Even though he receives great attention from the American public, his work has been rarely exhibited in Europe, especially if one considers his vast production and his considerable influence on young photographers.


Starting from this unusual artistic process, the book I wrote is dedicated to a broader issue: the relationships between texts and images. It starts with a bustling cultural period -in the 1960's-1970's- , a time when the notion of mixed-media artist spread, a time for new artistic groups such as the Narrative Art, and ends in the 2000's with the development of interconnected texts and inages, questionning the input of new technologies.






Having witnessed a need for narratives, a need that appeared approximately thirty years ago, and the necessity for artists and critics to write stories, within or about the art, I decided to work on the changing relationships between texts and images throughout the last fifty years.


Because today museography has to be written the way stories are. Because curators have to be writers, exhibitions have to be stories and photographers have to explain what they mean, to tell their tales... Because new media and new technologies had a tremendous impact on the conflicting relationships texts and images entertained. And mostly because looking at the younger generation of photographers made me realize a fact one cannot deny: we are definitely sitting in a new era: the era of photo-graphs.







How was it financed:

I self-financed years of research and three trips to the U.S., investing over 5.000€ in this project. What initially started as a misunderstanding and a phone conversation that lead me to believe that Duane Michals was suffering from a mysterious illness turned into an impromptu visit to his gallery to introduce myself and this project that was, at a time, but a mere blurb on a sheet of paper.

During the 2014 summer, I bought a plane ticket with not much more that a large smile and an essay I had written during my finals and that had not been touched for years, and flew New York City.

Things unfolded very quickly and little did I know that Filigranes Publishing would trust me on this project with not more than a short explanatory note. As luck would have it, Duane Michals' assistant chance visit to the gallery turned out into a three-people interview then into a dialogue that finally brought me to Duane's front-door.



Where are we at?

Filigranes and I have worked on a mock-up for the book, to help the graphic designer and give him a direction. He's now working on the final dummy. The text has been done for months and everything is now close to be printed.







Publishing date:

The book will get published in November, 2015 to be launched during Paris Photo and will be available in librairies in early 2016. We are planning on a little get-together event for the launch. oping that Duane Michals will meet us on the way!



Duane and I, in December, around Christmas under the snowy snow of New York city..




Publishing date: January, 2016

Text: Valentine Umansky

Photographs: Duane Michals

Format: 15,6 x 24 cm

144 pages - 50 photographs

Three-color printing on Artic Volume White 150 g paper

Soft cover - Sirio Color Nero 290 g


Stitched cover

Graphic design: Thierry Laurent

Proof reading: Jacqueline Lasry

Why fund it?

The kiss kiss bank bank

The mimimum budget to print 700 copies of the book amounts to 8.000€ :

1000 € for the graphic design

500 € for the editorial follow-up

3800 € for printing

1500 € for all reproduction rights

200 € for the distribution

1000 € for the author


Three sponsors decided to support this project very early, giving 3500 € while the Filigranes Publishing House finances parts of its budget.


The book was presented in Florence during the "Critical studies : Asking big questions again" conference -

The crowdfunding campaign will help finance the reproduction rights and the editorial follow-up.





Valentine Umansky is a critic who has been working for years with galleries and museums specialized in photography. Duane Michals is an American photographer born in 1932 in McKeesport in Pennsylvania. It is only in 1958, while on a Soviet Union trip, that he discovered photography. Working for major magazines, he also developed his photo-sequences,... See more

Newest comments

Un gros message d'amour de Double Pédale (de Bristol, UK). ONE LOVE.
Writing HIStory! Make us Proud Val!
Go Valentine ! Go ! ;)