When one thinks of John Miller’s work, excrement is one of the first things to come to mind. Miller gained notoriety in the mid-1980s and early ’90s for his series of paintings and sculptural works thickly coated with smears of chocolate-brown acrylic impasto. Fellow artist Roy Arden quipped, “So much did the substance come to unify and symbolize his oeuvre that ‘John Miller Brown’ or ‘J.M.B.’ became a trademark of sorts . . . a materialist antidote to the I.K.B. or ‘International Klein Blue’ of Yves Klein’s cosmic monochromes.” Whereas Klein had cunningly sought to capture (and market) experiences of metaphysical transcendence through his patented blue pigment, Miller mired viewers in the muck of his chosen material while also riffing on Freud’s theory of artmaking as a sublimation of the urge to play with one’s feces. If these early pieceswhich were recently on view in a
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