Contemporary Print Market Report
Harland Miller: Overcoming Optimism - Signed Print

Overcoming Optimism
Signed Print

Harland Miller

£10,000-£15,000 Guide

This estimate blends recent public auction records with our own private sale data and network demand.

Screenprint, 2014
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 138cm x W 110cm

Critical Review

Overcoming Optimism is discretely branded in vibrant orange against a rich, purple ground, characteristic of the more adventurous Penguin cover design. The alliteration, positioning and simplicity disguise the sarcastic undertones of the text, loaded with the black humour that Miller cites as a fundamental part of his upbringing in the “carnage” of life in the industrial North East.

Poignant and subversively sociopolitical, Overcoming Optimism cites Miller himself as its creator, as all his book cover works do. Explaining his love of text in his works, Miller himself actually first achieved widespread critical recognition as a writer, with his debut novel, Slow down Arthur, Stick to Thirty published in 2000. Then in 2001, merging his interests in image and text, Miller began creating a series of works based upon the Penguin book covers, which he picked up from thrift shops during his time spent living in Paris. Unable to understand the titles in French, he began to fabricate his own titles. Miller was able to incorporate his love of classic literature with painting. Overcoming Optimism is an archetypal example from this body of work, which combines figurative painting with elements of popular culture and literary imagery. With painterly brushstrokes and dripping colour partly obscuring the text, the effect is one of an ageing paperback infused with artistic vigour and an unmissable sense of the presence of the artist’s hand.

The faded cover, torn edges and stained, smudged pages of Overcoming Optimism nostalgically recall a lifetime history of love and use that visually references our intimate, long-standing relationship with text and language, in a visceral, physical connection between person and page that passes through the generations. The American painter Ed Ruscha is a clear influence for Miller, marrying text and image in a radical juxtaposition using slogans and phrases to compliment his paintings. Mark Rothko, too, is another such acknowledged source of inspiration for the British artist, with his use of prominent bands of colour such as the radiant orange and deep purple seen in the visual aesthetic of Overcoming Optimism.

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