Driven by the quest to maintain an honest contact to "real life", Hanson spent most of his professional career in South Florida, where the subjects of his works were everywhere and abundant. Rendered with tremendous empathy and familiarity, Hanson's figures are typically ordinary folks, with a special emphasis on the working class. They appear to lack style, self-consciousness and awareness that they are the subjects of a work of art.
In Old Couple on a Bench, a man and woman, exemplify the cliché of Florida retirees. She is corpulent and overweight and dressed in loud clothing, he sports a sunburned, balding head and pale, white ankles. Though they are seated far apart and each is lost in thought, it is obvious they are a couple. As a signifier of the middle class, he is holding a JCPenny bag. While Hanson's works are regarded as classics of Pop and Photorealism, his work avoids the aloof, ironic stance of many of his peers, favoring instead, personal proximity and intimacy.
Though clearly in tune with the prevailing trends in the artworld, Hanson was able to maintain an outsider's position. It was his insistence on not becoming enmeshed in the hubris of art centers like New York and Los Angeles that allowed his work to remain fresh and engaging. This outsider quality is exemplified in Old Couple on a Bench. Hanson captures the nuance of the couples personalities with their staunchly Middle-American values, his rendering is devoid of mockery.
As is often the case, the artist who works independently comes to wield an enormous amount of influence on the thinking of future generations. Hanson's sculptures are a pre-cursor to such contemporary artists as Charles Ray, Ron Mueck, Jeff Koons and the Chapman Brothers. Each of these artists, in distinct ways, has come to understand new possibilites in realist sculpture due at least in part to Hanson's insistence on championing the everyday.