Dan Miller — graphein
Past: March 22 → May 19, 2012
Dan Miller’s work was acquired by New York’s MoMA even before that of Henry Darger and James Castle, making him the first Art brut creator to join one of the world’s most prestigious public art collections. His work has also found room in the collections of Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, and David Byrne, giving further proof that his work transcends the divide between Art brut and contemporary art. Dan Miller himself certainly has no interest in this debate, however; his severe autism locks him away in his own world, occasionally casting forth these mysterious over-written drawings, their words and signs scarifying the paper to the point of illegibility and dizzying overabundance. Cy Twombly — whose work shares certain common traits with that of Miller — sometimes follows the same path, but where Miller constructs his own language, Twombly deconstructs it. The mirror effect is striking, yet is incapable of exhausting the questions raised by such works. Rather, it resists them, and as Richard Leeman has written :
“A ‘brut’ body of work like that of Dan Miller is of such complex simplicity that by definition it escapes the questions, fads, and neuroses of what is commonly called contemporary art”.
The sole point of certainty lies rather in the state of flux between writing and drawing — two practices with a shared root in language: both are graphein in Greek. It is as if Dan Miller’s echolalia translates above all the need to speak, to prove his existence in words, by whatever means he has at his disposal.
Dan Miller, born in Castro Valley in 1961, is autistic. He has been attending the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, for over fifteen years, giving entirely unfettered reign to his inventive imagination. He is obsessed with household objects such as light bulbs and electric sockets, the names of towns and cities, people, numbers, and foodstuffs. He pours his inner world onto the paper, intensely repeating its key signifiers in paint, pen, pencil, and felt tip. The various media intertwine and pile up like the words themselves to create subtle strata of undeniable pictorial power. His works reveals a rare dynamic force that seems to breathe new life into the body of the letters and the expressive power of words, above and beyond the lexical encryption caused by their accumulation.
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