art for everyone. every monday morning.
 
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Phillip Pearlstein • American B: 1924

Portrait of Richard and Gloria Miller C: 1973 • Oil on Canvas 44 1/2” x 40 1/2”

If the walls could talk in the brownstone at 323 W. 21st Street, in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, they would have quite a story to tell. There, behind bright red doors, Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein and Dorothy Cantor shared their living space with a dance studio and took their first steps toward artistic fame.

Warhol, of course, became one of the most famous artist/celebrities of his generation. Pearlstein and Cantor also became successful artists, though decidedly less well-known. Pearlstein pioneered a unique realistic style using minimal colors and interesting cropping techniques that gave his work an almost abstract feel. Later Pearlstein and Cantor married. Warhol was in the wedding. They raised three children and he became a beloved professor emeritus at Brooklyn College.

In 1963, 40 year old Richard McDermott Miller sold his family’s manufacturing business in Dover, Ohio and moved to New York City to begin his own celebrated career as a sculptor. There, the sculptor from Dover, Ohio bumped into the painters from Pittsburgh. They became friends, sharing similar artistic tastes and backgrounds. All had been childhood art prodigies, with Pearlstein winning a nationwide art contest at age 18 that put two of his teenage paintings on the pages of Life magazine. Miller studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art before putting his artistic ambitions on hold to lead the family business.

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In 1973 the two midwestern threads of our story came together in Philip Pearlstein’s studio, now located on New York’s Upper West Side. There, sculptor Richard McDermott Miller sat next to his second wife, Gloria Bley Miller as their friend, Philip Pearlstein, painted their portrait. They sat stiffly on metal folding chairs with their hands folded primly in their laps, seemingly uncomfortable being subjects rather than artist. At the time, they had been married for 12 years. Their union lasted until Richard Miller died of pancreatic cancer in 2005. Miller left behind a rich artistic legacy, including a portrait of himself and his wife, painted by his good friend, Philip Pearlstein. Today this portrait sits in a place of honor between the hometowns of artist and subject … at the Canton Museum of Art. Visit them when you can.

Canton Museum of Art Permanent Collection • Gift of Mr. Richard McDermott Miller, 81.39

 
 

4 Ways to Sound Smart When Viewing at The Canton Museum of Art


1.
The man in this painting became as well known as the artist. Maybe he’s staring at the painter, knowing full well what artistic tricks he’s up to.”

2.
“When Pearlstein married Dorothy Cantor, Andy Warhol was in the wedding party. I hope he left his wig at home.”

3.
“Pearlstein called himself a Post-Abstraction Realist. I suppose this makes Rembrandt a Pre-Abstraction Realist”

4.
“His paintings of people always use flat ‘almost anemic’ colors, making the composition more important than the subjects.”


 
 

Pearlstein Timeline. Scroll over images to see timeline.