BUSAN – Known to many for his uniqueness in writing and his stylistic impact on literature through works like Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Black Spring, Henry Miller is not often identified as a painter. Yet, to the delight of fans, Miller left about 3,000 artworks behind after his passing in 1980.
Beginning at age 49, Miller painted until his death. Whether you simply appreciate him for his literary forms or you are intrigued by the idea of his artwork, you can check out 187 of his works, donated by collector Ha Jung- Woong, currently on display at the Busan Museum of Art througn February 6th..
This collection features Miller’s work in a variety of materials, mainly watercolor, pen, and pastel, using multiple techniques such as etching, and lithograph. The majority of the works are medium-sized paintings.
Miller did not receive any formal art training, but surrounded himself with other artists, spending time in France with Hungarian photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker Giberate Brassai, and traveling with Russian- French painter Grégoire Michonze. He was inspired by the French Surrealists, in both creative writing and painting.
Because accounts of sexual experiences and artistic liberation in his written work were considered provocative in the United States, Miller spent his time abroad. In an essay titled, “Inside the Whale,” George Orwell wrote:
“In Miller’s books you are reading about people living the expatriate life, people drinking, talking, meditating, and fornicating, not about people working, marrying, and bringing up children; all of them are not only credible but completely familiar; you have the feeling that all their adventures have happened to yourself. Not that they are anything very startling in the way of adventures. In Miller’s case, it is not so much a question of exploring the mechanisms of the mind as of owning up to everyday facts and everyday emotions.”
This style of writing was a huge contribution and inspiration to the Beat Generation.
In his book, To Paint Is to Love Again, he claimed that he was newly viewing the world, seeing objects once mundane as suddenly extraordinary. He said this was an “unending source of wonder.” The objects were now viewed for the texture they displayed and the ways of speaking to the viewer. He wanted to capture his recent travels with a paintbrush, and he believed that certain feelings are ignored but can be expressed through a brush stroke. His expression in the visual arts came as a strong realization much later in life than his creative writing.
Most of the artworks on display were created in 1967-1979. Subject matter is mainly figurative, consisting of faces and landscapes with the incorporation of text. His artworks consist of strong line, organic shape, and very expressive in color. Miller claimed to have had no plan when he painted, saying he created simply by taking in the sights around him. He believed that color should be pure, and he strongly disagreed with creating tones in the palette preferring to lay one color against another to create the look of value. He wanted contrast instead of harmony. After observing the exhibition, it is clear who inspired Miller, and where his inspiration came from. Viewers may find it refreshing to observe a clear image of the artist’s intentions.
The collector, Ha Jung-Woong, is a Korean-Japanese Art Patron. He has donated close to 500 artworks to the Busan Museum of Art. This exhibition will be on display until February 6th 2011.
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