Coast Galleries

Henry Miller Biography


Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway are regarded as the two most important writers in twentieth-century American literature. Little known to most, Henry Miller was also a formidable painter.

Seven years before Miller published the Tropic of Cancer he held his first watercolor painting exhibition, but his fame as an author eclipsed his reputation as an artist.

He painted over 2000 watercolors during six decades and had over sixty international exhibitions. His paintings are in museums and private collections in Japan, Europe and the United States.

Despite his acclaim as one of the world's most famous authors, history may remember him more as an artist. Miller's wife Lepska once remarked that "his paintings have withstood the test of time".

"When I write, I work", Miller said, "but when I paint, I play". His paintings are filled with childlike images full of play and color. Some have called his paintings "picture stories" but, unlike his writings, there is no message.

Henry the writer wrote passionately about everything, but Henry the painter traded his pencils for brushes and used colors and shapes instead of words and sentences. With his writer's mind at rest, his artist's spirit soared and he dared do what most only dream to do--to try to be as free as a child.

"To paint is to love again and to love is to live life at its fullest", Miller wrote.

He sold very few paintings during his lifetime; he often traded them for painting supplies in New York, for a glass of wine in Paris and for food and clothing in Big Sur, but mostly he gave away his paintings to friends.

Author Lawrence Durrell wrote "those lucky enough to collect Miller's paintings while he was still alive will treasure them now that he has left us".

The Centennial Collection of Henry Miller Prints commemorate his passing and remain behind as the gift of a great American artist whose spirit still soars today.