New York

Richard McDermott Miller

Which isn’t the case with Richard McDermott Miller, around whose work there hangs on air of nostalgia for, mostly, the representational heroicism that lost its nerve quite early on in the development of the modern bourgeois state. His larger pieces suffer, I think, from a kind of chunkiness that suggests discomfort—on his part—with the larger than life scale. The smaller pieces—which abandon nostalgia for the heroic and substitute for it a view of classicism that comes from a later stage in the 19th century, and which is more modest and naturalistic in its emphasis—seem to me not to have this difficulty with the adjustment of mass to scale. Of these, Beverly: Kneeling, 1973, a 15 1/2"-high bronze, is a good example, in that it epitomizes Miller’s basic procedural concern in these small pieces, which is to make the diagonal thrust that runs through the work as a whole find a response in secondary—horizontal and vertical—tensions. As Miller’s sculpture succeeds in being suggestive of anatomic movement, it denies its own materiality—specifically, its weight—which seems to confirm a connection with the highly theatrical academicism whose development parailed Impressionism’s. 

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe