As the value of artist Harland Miller‘s prints continues to rise on the secondary market, here is a quick intro to the types of prints available, their history and inspirations – including the recent Who Cares Wins created for charity.
What is the history of Harland Miller’s prints?
Miller’s first and best-known series of works centre around Penguin classics, but with new, quick-witted one-liner titles that evoke its own darkly comic narrative. “I realised that the design of those classics would throw all the focus on to the title of the book, which is exactly what I wanted to do,” Miller has explained.
In the early 2010s, Miller created a series of paintings and prints based on old Penguin poetry editions with their marbled covers. The displayed artwork titles in the Poets series often contain references to love: titles include Love and Other Crimes and the uncharacteristically optimistic Loves Saves the Day.
At a similar time, Miller published prints based on the Penguin Plays. Of this series he has said: “The jazzy Broadway-style branding of this series has a lightness and a level of unreality compared with the authoritative Classics”. Overcoming Optimism was released in 2014 as an edition of 50 signed screenprints. It currently sits among Miller’s highest valued prints, achieving £23,812 at Bonham’s in June 2020.
2016 saw the emergence of a series of artworks inspired by self-help books from the 1960s and ’70s. Like the original books, these artworks bore both text and graphic illustration; the titles are humorous and often self contradicting, informed by both their meaning and typographical appearance.
Simultaneously, Miller produced a series known as Letter Paintings. Visually these artworks are bright, cheerful and graphic, using words often heard in the North of England like Luv or Ace. Ace was the only artwork in this series to be produced as a print, an etching in an edition of 50 which sold in an online auction in 2020 for £18,750.
What inspired Harland Miller’s prints?
Miller has said that inspiration for his work can come from anywhere: the outdoors, the bus stop, a misheard conversation or the personal advert sections of newspapers – which informed Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore.
Visually, Miller’s work references mid-century American movements such as Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. He cites Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko as influences. Miller’s more recent letter paintings were inspired by a writing style found in medieval manuscripts, of this he said, “I brought a Pop Art sensibility to medieval manuscripts”.
How do Harland Miller’s prints relate to his paintings?
Many of Miller’s prints are related to his paintings, but they can be published years after, or even before, their painted counterparts. The print version of Love Conquers Nothing was released in 2011 as 35 signed editions, before the original painting was completed. Similarly, Miller released a digital print of Incurable Romantic in 2011 but the original painting was released for sale a year later.
What types of Harland Miller prints are for sale?
Miller has made prints in a variety of mediums including silkscreen, etching, embossing, giclee print and inkjet, often with chine colle or collage, and dimensions can range from roughly A4 to three or four times that in size. His prints are generally produced on paper with a thin glossy finish, such as Somerset Satin. Sometimes, Miller will rework a print with paint and pencil. Love, A Decisive Blow Against If is one example – it fetched over £81,000 in March 2021, the highest value for any of Miller’s prints sold on the secondary market.
Harland Miller’s prints edition sizes vary but are most often published in editions of 30-75. Exceptionally, in 2020 Miller produced his silkscreen Who Cares Wins as an edition of 250. The artwork was sold by White Cube gallery as a part of a fundraising initiative to help tackle the Covid-19 crisis, each print sold for £5,000. Conversely, a print with the same title was donated by the artist to Sotheby’s charity auction Art for Grenfell in 2017. It was an edition of 1, screen printed then hand finished with pencil and oil paint; it sold for £62,500.
Generally, Harland Miller prints are published as single sheet editions. There are, however, instances where editions are published in a group. Fuck Art Let’s Dance/Fuck Dancing Let’s Fuck is a diptych silkscreen print produced as a set in an edition of 50; they exist as separate statements but also together as an intended pair. In Shadows I Boogie was also produced as a diptych, one pink, one blue, published in editions of 50. These were sold in presentation boxes with monographs of the same title, bearing the corresponding print on the book cover.
What are the prices for Harland Miller prints?
On the secondary market, the value of Miller’s artwork continues to rise, with the last two years seeing record sale prices reaching over £80,000. Editions of Miller’s silkscreen print Who Cares Wins, which sold for £5,000 by White Cube gallery, have later achieved almost four times that price at auction.
The value of Miller’s prints can be affected by several factors. Demand and edition size can influence value. Current shows exhibiting similar artworks can also sway buying trends, as well as condition and provenance.
Where can I find a Harland Miller for sale?
Miller continues to create new work, both paintings and prints, which prospective buyers can purchase through galleries and exhibitions; on the secondary market, buyers can look to auction houses, reputable online sales platforms and brokers, such as MyArtBroker.