Seeing Dunhillâ€™s new ad campaign didnâ€™t make me want to buy luxury goods from London; it made me want a Miller. A Harland Miller. Heâ€™s the rather shabby fellow among the three fairly obscure Brits chosen as the brandâ€™s new faces this season, the one trying to hide behind an $1,100 briefcase (below). That must be why I failed to recognize one of my favorite contemporary artists at first, but reading the fine print I found he was one and the same. The talented painter and author first caught my eye when his 2007 monograph International Lonely Guy landed on my desk. What he does best are atmospheric re-interpretations of classic Penguin paperback covers â€“ and I know Iâ€™m not the only one around here with a fondness for those.
The Penguin paintings often puncture pretensions and reveal home truths about the authors; thus D.H. Lawrenceâ€™s Sons and Lovers becomes Dirty Northern Bastard, Waughâ€™s Brideshead Revisited becomes Gateshead Revisited, Hemingwayâ€™s sometimes forced machismo is summed up neatly in the work above. After painting a number of them starting in 2001 Miller tried his hand at other things, but returned to the fold with a new series of Penguin works just exhibited at an Amsterdam gallery. Stylish musical genius Jarvis Cocker probably picked up a couple; a big Miller fan and collector, he interviewed the artist for International Lonely Guy. Copies are available on Amazon, meanwhile here are some images from the book, courtesy of Rizzoli.
Jared Paul Stern writes the Classicist column for Luxist.