new-york

John Miller

Metro Pictures

If a child smeared a handful of feces on a wall by his crib, his parents would have to be pathologically esthetic to try to interpret the “work” that resulted. Of all the bodily functions, defecation is the most taboo in our culture. The Marquis de Sade was perhaps the first intellectual to study its possible meanings, although quite a few artists since have referenced it on occasion to make superficial, usually comic points. Back in the ’60s, Piero Manzoni sold his feces in cans as art (at least, that’s what he claimed; to my knowledge, no one who bought one has ever opened it, although a few of the cans reportedly exploded). Lately Francesco Clemente has painted defecation as a mystical though still quaintly shocking act. In John Miller’s latest show, excremental imagery served as a kind of intrusive presence amid recent Conceptual art’s confectual dynamic, a genre whose style he appeared

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