Upon hearing of artist Mike Kelley’s suicide, the artist Jim Shaw called the artist John Miller.
Miller, who went to CalArts with both Kelley and Shaw, described the painful phone call in a touching and honest piece about the late, much-esteemed Kelley in Art Agenda. “Mike has made his generation of artists and those that follow painfully aware of the invidiousness of esthetics at every level,” Miller went on to write. “It is this radical re-positioning that has made him so central to so many. But I take his avowed dislike of popular culture with a sizeable grain of salt.”
Miller is an artist (and critic and musician) of the generation he describes, who understands art and aesthetics as essentially discriminatory, something that chooses this over that—something that’s always lined with an agenda. Miller explores the American consciousness much like Kelley and Shaw, though takes a different route by allowing the mundane and day-to-day to filter into his work and become more the subject.
The artist is having his first U.S. solo museum exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Titled I Stand, I Fall, the exhibition will feature about 75 works from across Miller’s career, spanning media and time periods. It will include his iconic gold and brown reliefs made of found objects, new large-scale sculptures, and work that has never been seen. Miller will also be creating a “mirrored labyrinth” in the ICA’s Atrium Gallery.
The exhibition will display Miller’s tendency for off-putting social realism. Photos from the ongoing series, The Middle of the Day, depict moments of normal life in urban and suburban areas between the hours of noon and 2 p.m., while his anthropomorphic sculptures—often engaging social disparity of many types and kinds—are both funny and unnerving. I Stand, I Fall is a timely exhibition for the influential artist, whose work comes into sharp relief when set against the culture it’s prodding.
JOHN MILLER: I Stand, I Fall
February 18, 2016 – June 12, 2016
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
4040 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33137