For his “Universe” series—a refreshingly optimistic body of work and part of the artist’s efforts to diversify his oeuvre—Miller cites Damien Hirst’s constant reinvention of his practice, changing methods and mediums, as inspiration. The works display the artist’s graphic style, pairing dramatic cosmic images of stars, galaxies, and nebulas with bold white text offering positive exclamations or proverbial phrases like YES or THE FUTURE JUST HAPPENED. Miller says about the series, “the ‘Universe’ pieces sort of move beyond society, to eternal truths, like ‘the lesson repeats as needed.’ It’s really true; you need more than one lesson, and you get more than one lesson.” This emphasis on eternal truths lends itself well to the astral settings of the works, metaphors for limitless opportunity and the future.
Warhol’s 1987 Moonwalk prints are widely considered one of the artist’s last (if not the last) series created before his unexpected death that same year. The work revitalized the 1969 televised images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the American flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, and the exuberant spirit of nationalism that came as a result.
Moonwalk was part of “The History of TV” series that Warhol had recently begun, which would highlight images of iconic televised moments. Other television moments Warhol planned to create were of I Love Lucy and the Beatles’ famous performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Moonwalk was the only work ready to be printed by the time Warhol died.
The Warhol screenprint was a likely inspiration for MTV’s appropriation of the moonwalk for their logo in the ’90s, which they have transformed into a statuette given out each year during the Video Music Awards (VMAs). This year the “moon man” statuette was re-designed by artist, KAWS. His painting, Astroboy, resembles the design he created for MTV, giving the moon man a stylized skull and crossbones head and an overall Michelin-man inspired buoyancy.