Greg Miller: A Modern Olympia

JoAnne Artman Gallery
May 12, 2020 7:07PM

In his upcoming group show, Yes, Masters: A MANthology, Miller redirects his penchant for depicting the human figure towards reimagined classics. Evoking a sense of history, as well as whimsicality, the historical influences of his recent painted works transcend time. Daring to assume a different artistic paradigm that combines 20th century attitude with traditional European sensibility, the culmination is a shared dialogue challenging conventional narratives in art with expressive color and a focus on figuration.

Greg Miller
Olympia, 2020
JoAnne Artman Gallery

“I’m a contemporary cave painter, an archaeologist of sorts,” says Miller. “Imagery comes from old art books, garbage cans, book stores (if any are left), junk piles, walls… My paintings that I am creating are contemporary appropriations of Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Manet, and Picasso — All inspirations that I draw from in my work, past, present, and future.”

Seeped in the process of taking all aspects of culture, art, architecture, and images that surround him, Greg Miller combines his paintings with found elements to the surface of his canvases and panels. Addressing art history and the fleeting nature of cultural ephemera and collective memory, his selection of pieces are a foundation of our culture, and with the found collages added to the surface, each piece tells a story of past, present, and future.

“[For Manet’s Olympia] I was inspired by the impressionist movement. The portrait shows a beautiful woman with a servant bringing her flowers. It was a confrontational piece because it portrayed the woman as being a prostitute. It has many meanings as I interpret it all as positive, and sexual independence for woman. I enjoy depicting woman as HEROES of our time.”

Recreating the original composition, a nude woman reclines in a leisurely pose while a servant brings flowers. Infamous for shocking its audience, the painting not only shows Olympia’s fully lit nudity, but captures her confrontational gaze towards the viewers, challenging art historical and societal convention. Echoing Miller’s quest to portray women as heroes, the bold, confident figure was modeled by Victorine Meurent, a well-known model in Paris. Often dismissed in art history as a drunk and a prostitute, Victorine Meurent, she was an artist herself. Her work was included in the prestigious Paris Salon multiple times, a commendable feat for no small feat for being both poor and female. Her self-portrait was even exhibited in 1876 at the Salon, when Manet’s work was rejected. Playful and satirical, Miller’s contemporary adaptation merges the classical with pop culture and mass media, all while bringing Old Masters into a new world.

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