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Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo exhibition of London-based painter/writer Harland Miller.
Penguin paperbacks, which are the inspiration for the paintings, first appeared in 1935, costing only six English pence, the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. They were categorized by color- orange was popular fiction, blue was biography, lemon yellow was miscellaneous collections, brown was religion, green was crime, purple was essays and belles lettres. These books became classics, passing through generations of readers. Inevitably, for each copy, the traces and marks of their owners-coffee stains, mug rings, tattered edges, doodles and inscriptions-appear on the monochrome covers and tell their own idiosyncratic stories of the personal life of each book.
Miller's paintings enlarge these covers, appropriating the eccentricities of each book's aged surface. In addition, the artist gives himself license to make alterations to the cover space, playing word games with the titles (particularly using titles that would be incorrect or don't work in the context of book publishing) and connecting the ways the paint is handled in each canvas to the titles of the books. In addition, Miller has often painted the author portraits found on the back of such books, and for this series of green crime-genre covers, Miller has selected five women whose mug shots he culled from an batch of sixties True Detective Magazines. As Miller describes, "it struck me as I was looking at these women, who were all convicted of crimes of passion-how much their mug shots looked like authors portraits and how much authors portraits resembled in turn the mug shots."
His exhibition takes its title from an inscription in one of the Penguin books, "Dear Son, This is one of the last of my few remaining pre marital possessions-look after it won't you, Love Dad." Its suggestion is that the book is a unique object, a possession.
Marianne Boesky Gallery is located at 535 West 22nd Street, 2nd Floor.
Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10am to 6pm. Please call 212-680-9889 for additional information.