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The Phone Don’t Ring It’s Me

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If The Phone Don’t Ring It’s Me

Harland Miller

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Critical Review

Harland Miller’s If the Phone don’t ring it’s Me, (2008) captures the artist’s signature brazenness that one can’t help but admire. In these prints, Miller takes the familiar format of the Penguin classics and their highly recognisable dust jackets, reinventing them with his own satirical, witty and sometimes controversial titles. (See Miller prints such as Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore Now.)

Miller’s humour is not only reflected in the title of the print, but also in the ironic substitution of his name for the author’s on the front cover of the book. Unlike others in the Penguin series, instead of writing his full name here Miller simply writes ‘It’s me,’ - signalling his rise to fame and recognition in the art world. He occasionally also uses other famous writers like Charles Bukowski or Ernest Hemingway, that betray his genuinely keen interest in literature. The Penguin series, which Miller started in 2001 was a pivotal moment in his artistic career and is what the artist is known best for today.

If The Phone Don't Ring It's Me prints employ a layering of colour to achieve their authentic and rugged look, with the edges of the work appearing to be torn, and the spine bent.

Why is the If The Phone Doesn't Ring It's Me collection important?

The print also comes as a deckchair, a limited edition variation which is an inventive adaptation of the traditional screen prints of the dust jackets. The deckchair format brings with it an additional, playful aspect of Pop Art, pushing boundaries of authenticity and merging high and low art through transforming a print, which is an essentially aesthetic object, into an everyday, functional furniture piece used for leisure.

Miller was highly influenced by the Pop Art movement and his adoption of the Penguin dust jackets resonates with Andy Warhol’s use of Campbell’s Soup and other mundane everyday objects to form the basis of his artworks. The deckchair design demonstrates Miller’s craft with a range of mediums. The canvas is a mixture of polyester and cotton and comes in various sizes. The frame is made of Merpauh wood coated with teak oil for protection, durability and an organic finish.

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