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The Case Against

In Happiness, Harland Miller parodies self-help manuals. Against a turquoise square background, a seemingly three-dimensional cube is depicted hovering in the centre of the composition in red and blue. The manual title encapsulates Miller’s characteristic dark humour and wit, which marks many of his prints depicting book covers such as those that are part of the Penguin series.

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Meaning & Analysis

Branching out into Penguins’ Pelican collection, Happiness the case against (2017) sees Miller re-appropriate a more graphic cover here. The print is reflective of Miller’s fascination with book covers and literature, yet here, as opposed to the Penguin series, this Harland Miller print turns our attention to psychology and social science publications from the 1960s and 1970s.

In Happiness, Miller depicts the cover design of a self-help manual where a three-dimensional red and blue cube hovers in the centre of the composition. Above the image, the title is written in pin capitalised letters, beneath which Miller adds The Case Against, in dark blue lettering.

The print exemplifies Miller’s technical aptitude for printing, as he utilises various techniques, such as polymer-gravure, photo-etching and block printing to achieve a more graphic and superimposed finish. The effect of these various techniques is that while at first glance the work seems one dimensional, its main elements have in fact been given a multi-layered appearance.