Kenneth Hayes Miller


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Painter and printmaker. The leader of the Fourteenth Street School, Miller chronicled modern life, particularly the experience of middle-class, urban women. Many of his works picture the shoppers or salesgirls whose consumer-oriented aspirations seemed to exemplify an up-to-the-minute lifestyle. Born in the upstate religious colony of Oneida, Miller moved permanently to New York in 1888. Trained at the New York School of Art (now Parsons, the New School for Design) and the Art Students League, he augmented his knowledge in the museums of Europe. Although William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox numbered among his teachers, his early art reflected an attachment to Albert Pinkham Ryder. He began a lifelong teaching career in 1899 at the New York School of Art. In 1911 he moved to the Art Students League, where he remained an influential instructor for forty years. After exhibiting four dreamy early works in the Armory Show, Miller strove for a more disciplined approach. From Renaissance paintings, he learned both traditional techniques and an intellectualized method of composition. From Renoir's expansive late nudes, he gleaned an appreciation of the monumentalized female figure. After 1923, when he moved into a studio on Union Square, he specialized in subjects observed in his Fourteenth Street neighborhood. Immobilized within a classically constructed design and psychologically disengaged, the hefty, fashionably attired Shopper (Whitney Museum, 1928) pauses outside a millinery store. In such paintings, Miller attempted to reconcile yearning for ideal beauty and appreciation for the modern woman. Although this conjunction of competing interests coexists uneasily, his work found a wide audience in his own time.

Subjects: Art.

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