Abstract Expressionism and the New York Art Scene by Paul Franklin Miller,
By: Tal Peer
Website Launches in Celebration of Paul Franklin Miller: Renowned Sculptor, Jeweler, and Artist.
An art educator and pioneer, Roanoke, Virginia born Paul Franklin Miller, Jr. (January 23, 1932—March 29, 2012), has a breadth of work spanning mediums, sparking innovation alongside inspiration. Miller mastered lace-like bronze welds, likened to golden crochet, which he used in everything from intimate, yet multifunctional jewelry to large-scale art objects and décor. A newly launched website serves as a resource for those seeking information regarding Paul Franklin Miller’s work and life, with a wealth of imagery and descriptions regarding his techniques and inventions.
The landing page at www.paulfranklinmiller.com features four distinct images of work, and the site can be entered on the upper right. From there, the main navigation is divided into four parts: Sculpture, 2 Dimensional Works, Jewelry, and the About section. In the sculpture area, there is a drop-down separation of his welded, fabricated and ceramic works. His welded pieces became synonymous with his style, as he adopted geometry and merged it with bronze and brass, lace-like textures.
Mask motifs influenced many of his pieces, as seen throughout the pages, and his wife, Nancy Miller, spearheads the cataloging of Paul’s artwork and writing. At times his masks were consciously created, and at other times their form was subconsciously placed within works, reflecting attention to the ceremonial. Transformative power consumes them, whether in copper or print.
Paul Miller wrote, regarding his sculpture, "I have always been deeply interested in the continual importance of art in ritual, the way the two seem inseparable. My welded pieces are an attempt to create that awe-inspiring effect. I used metals of precious color, studded with pearls and garnets, which were some of the earliest precious stones used.” He employed geometry to achieve the meticulous symmetry upon which all of his welded work was based.
The fabricated sculpture section houses images of his treasured pre-human figures and creatures, which grew over time to become three to nine foot sculptures. The charming and amorphous forms were an instant hit, signaling a new venture in design, circa 1974. Nancy Miller, recalling what inspired the figures, says, “Almost every decision Paul made automatically passed through his ecological filter. Our home was filled with chandeliers and spice racks made of recycled juice cans. Fabric scraps went into a quilt loosely based on color field painting. His Fellas, starting with the wrapped mummies, represented a notion of extinct creatures from pre-history. Even though they are mummy-wrapped, one can still feel the musculature, and sometimes the mood, of the creature. In case somebody missed the extinction message, he finished it off with the trophy heads."
A modern day renaissance man, Miller also pushed the boundaries of technology for the sake of art. In the early 1990’s, Miller’s obsession with welded symmetry led him to conceive and invent the symmetricon, alongside two physicists. It allowed him to photograph a segment of his welded sculpture and project it as a completely realized welded piece. Symmetrical, virtual sculptures could be created in minutes, instead of months—the usual Miller timeframe. From the repeating, kaleidoscope-like pattern of images, he created giclée prints, using nature’s symmetry for inspiration, culminating in a one-man show.
In jewelry, Paul Franklin Miller applied his mastery of welding bronze to a smaller scale, incorporating functionality. Many of his works are hair combs that double as pendants—yet they retain the interwoven, geometric mystique of his recognizable aesthetic.
Miller’s depth, creativity, and ability to impart his knowledge and inspire landed him a 1969 Artist-in-Residence at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, where he created the first Art & Technology curriculum. An inspiring artist and inventor, www.paulfranklinmiller.com seeks to engage and educate those yearning for more information about his work. A video regarding the artist can be found on Youtube at bit.ly/2wstVoK.
About Paul Franklin Miller
Inspired by ancient art and symmetry, Paul Franklin Miller (January 23, 1932—March 29, 2012), mastered sculpture, jewelry, welding and innovated a new platform for projecting patterns in print. As an art educator, he motivated students to explore their talent and means of expression. Entwined in the New York art scene, he produced hundreds of works that continue to adorn, from private homes to public space. For more information, visit www.paulfranklinmiller.com