John Miller (1954, Cleveland, OH, USA.)
Lives and works in New York and Berlin, Germany.
John Miller is an artist, critic, and musician whose work has undermined the rigid strategies of conceptual art since the early 1980s.
Miller earned his B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1977, attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1978 and received an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in 1979. Along with his classmates and friends Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, he was part of an influential group of artists who studied at CalArts in the 1970s.
Over the course of 30 years, Miller has produced an eclectic body of work that addressed language, valuation, social hierarchy and abjection. Through his sculptures, photographs, paintings and installations, Miller continuously explores notions of identity, economics and social class.
Miller is best known for a series of relief assemblages coated with a thick paste-like layer of brown paint that he began to make in the mid-1980s. Built up from a thick, granular impasto, these works are a chocolaty, excrement-like mess, formed from found objects and synthetic low-end merchandise buried just below the surface. Since then, he has developed a tendency to work in series and repeatedly reuse a single motif.
In 2008, Miller began gilding junk using gold leaf in his wall reliefs and sculptures. Gold architectural objects and household items arouse a primal attraction to metallic glimmer; the eye is drawn, magpie-like, to the glinting surfaces. However, upon closer inspection, the gold-covered objects appear cheap and even somewhat apocalyptic. Playing on authenticity and falsity, the works demonstrate Miller’s ambivalence towards capitalism and the value of art in consumer culture.
In 2011, Miller received the Wolfgang Hahn Prize from the Society for Contemporary Art at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. In 1991, he received a Fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
His work was included in the Gwangju Biennale (2010), Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2005) and the Whitney Biennial (1985, 1991).
John Miller is currently Professor of Professional Practice in Art History at Barnard College (New York).
His work has been widely exhibited in both Europe and the United States, including the New Museum (New York, NY, USA), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, USA), MoMA PS1 (New York, NY, USA), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Museum Ludwig (Cologne, Germany), Kunsthalle (Zürich, Switzerland), Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Zurich, Switzerland), Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Geneva, Switzerland), Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle (Warsaw, Poland), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, Germany) and Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France).
Selected public and private collections:
Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank (Frankfurt, Germany)
FRAC Bretagne (Rennes, France)
Institute of Contemporary Art (Miami, FL, USA)
MAMCO Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Geneva, Switzerland)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, USA)
Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Geneva, Switzerland)
Museum Ludwig (Cologne, Germany)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, USA)
Pangea Consortium (Zürich, Switzerland)
Ringier Collection (Zürich, Switzerland)
Rubell Museum (Miami, FL, USA)
Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Whitney Museum (New York, NY, USA)