The artist and writer Harland Miller (born 1964) is known for his large-scale, playful reworkings of Penguin book covers.
Miller takes much-loved book jackets of classic works by Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Edgar Allen Poe and others as his starting point. By rendering them in oils at poster size with quirky new titles, he transforms them into contemporary, often satirical commentaries on life and literature. Whether ironic, nostalgic, or downright cheeky – “Dirty Northern Bastard,” by DH Lawrence, or “I’m so Fucking Hard,” by Hemmingway – the titles demythologise and amuse in equal measure.
Harland Miller is attracted to books as objects – the more battered, stained and lived in the better. “I remember my parents’ Penguin books. For me, they are about nostalgia for a by-gone era – that musty smell, those coffee-mug rings, the often heart-breaking inscriptions on the inside cover.” Miller has lived and worked in New York, Berlin and Paris. Born in the North of England in 1964, Miller’s fondness for the drizzle and grimness of those northern towns remains a strong theme in his work. “I suppose mine is a very English sense of humour,” he says.
In this rare display of his watercolours and drawings, Miller’s Penguin covers are closer to still life studies, rather than two-dimensional posters. Experimenting with different paper sizes and angles, he occasionally shows their spines, and the shadows they cast. It is a celebration of books as treasured objects. His drawings – in particular his studies for his large-scale oil paintings with their notes scribbled down the margins – are some of his most intimate works to date.
Harland Miller’s group exhibitions include Royal Academy, London (2006, 2005), Kunsthalle Mannheim (2004) and the ICA, London (1996).
Harland MillerRequest about this work
“Never Judge a Book…”, Meadow Arts, UK
“Hay Festival”, Museum Esteban Vincente, Segovia, ES
“What Marcel Duchamp taught me”, Fine Arts Society, London, UK
“Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
“Sculpture in the Close”, Jesus College, Cambridge, UK
“AKA PEACE”, ICA, London, UK
“Cool Britannia”, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, KR
“Kupferstichkabinett: Between Thought and Action”, White Cube, London, UK
“Exhibitionism, The Art of Display”, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
“Different Places, Different Stories”, König-Heinrich-Platz, Duisburg, DE
“Inspired”, Mitchell Library (City Museum), Glasgow, UK
“TURPS BANANA 1”, Galleria Marabini, Milan, IT
“TURPS BANANA 2”, Galleria Marabini, Bologna, IT
“You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil”, White Cube, Hoxton Square and Shoreditch Town Hall, London, UK
“Voewood Projects”, High Kelling, Norfolk, UK
Summer Exhibition 2007, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK
“The Portrait”, V22 ASHWINSTREET, London, UK
Summer Exhibition 2006, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK
Summer Exhibition 2005, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK
“Direct Painting”, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, DE
“The Charged Image”, Collection of Douglas Cramer, Joseloff Gallery, West Hartford, CT, US
“Bad August”, Richard Salmon Gallery, London, UK
“Fools Rain”, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
“New Era”, New Era building in association with Leo Castelli, New York, NY, US