Lonely Guy

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Critical Review

One of Miller’s most famous works, International Lonely Guy is taken from singer Elton John’s reflections upon waking up alone in a new city. The singer spent much of his career on the road, travelling all over the globe and spending a lot of time in new and unfamiliar cities. Largely due to such notable inspiration, International Lonely Guy has become one of Miller’s most popular works.

The print comes in three variations, a lithograph from 2008, a screen print from 2010 and a deck chair from 2013. The designs are very similar, and of the compositions appear to be dirtied by dark smudges, with the white band in which the title text resides painted a slightly off-white colour. This is an intentional artistic decision that Miller employs to bring a sense of nostalgia and familiarity to the print.

This Harland Miller print is part of the artist's wider project, the Penguin series, in which he takes old Penguin dust jackets and changes the titles - appropriating the familiar format and imbuing them with his characteristic dry wit, dark humour and sarcasm. Miller came up with the idea for this series while wandering the streets of Paris, like the fictional protagonist of International Lonely Guy. Miller stumbled upon a box of old, second-hand Penguin books, and he was drawn to the simple and well-known cover design.

Why is the International Lonely Guy collection important?

In International Lonely Guy (2010), Miller utilises the screen printing technique, following in the canon established by celebrated Pop artist, Andy Warhol. This printing process results in almost identical prints, however, each print has small discrepancies, ensuring that every print maintains its status as an original work. Warhol was another significant influence on Miller’s artistic career and the idea for the Penguin series came from Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup series.

Miller explains: “I suppose it was a bit like Warhol's Campbell's soup cans being about what he ate for dinner every day - these Penguins were what I ended up reading every day, because I was living in Paris and I'd bought a bunch of them second-hand - it was all I could get my hands on. But they were good, and while I was living in Paris I'd also picked up stories about Fitzgerald, and about his and Hemingway's time there.”

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