Edgar Miller, Fashions of the Hour Covers Catalogue, 1932. Collection of DePaul Art Museum, gift of Paul and Janis Miller, 2013.71.99. Image courtesy of DePaul Art Museum.
Edgar Miller (1899–1993) arrived in Chicago in 1917, and over the next fifty years established a successful career as multi-hyphenate creative practitioner. He worked as an architect, artist, craftsperson, curator, designer, and illustrator during a particularly rich period that saw the emergence and establishment of modernism across the visual culture of the city. The tremendous body of work he produced, however, reveals an innovative, resourceful artistic polymath who was unconcerned with trends, labels, or what became the established tenets of modernism. Miller’s work across multiple mediums and disciplines reflects a bricolage approach to making, often drawing on found or repurposed materials and a diverse range of cultural, contemporary, and often seemingly anachronistic influences. He embraced collaboration and collectivity rather than the modernist doctrine of privileging the vision of a singular artistic “genius.”
Edgar Miller: Anti-Modern, 1917–1967—the first retrospective and most comprehensive solo presentation of Miller’s work to date—highlights the achievements of the artist’s rich, multifaceted career but situates his output within the broader cultural histories of Chicago and the creative communities in which he worked and lived. Guest curated by Dr. Marin R. Sullivan, the exhibition features approximately 150 works and pieces of ephemera reflecting all facets of Miller’s career, as well as works by some of his collaborators and influential contemporaries.