Joan Miró (1893-1983), A Star Caresses the Breast of a Negress (Painting Poem), 1938, Photograph: Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2011.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Hope of a Condemned Man I-II-III, 1973, Triptych, Photograph: Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2011.

How Catalan Identity and World Events Shaped the Work of Joan Miró

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Painting (Peinture), 1927, Tempera and oil on canvas, support: 972 x 1302 mm frame: 1080 x 1418 x 68 mm, Tate Collection, © Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), The Escape Ladder, 1940. Museum of Modern Art, New York © Joan Miró and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), The Farm (La masia), 1921-22, Oil on canvas, 132 x 147 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), May 1968, 1968-1973, © Joan Miró and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

 

Tate Modern
Bankside
+ 44 20 7887 8888
London
Level 4
Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape
April 14-September 11, 2011

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape brings together over 150 paintings, works on paper and sculptures by one of the 20th century’s greatest artists. The exhibition draws on collections from around the world to represent the astonishing breadth of Miró’s output.

It also explores the wider context of his work, bringing to light the artist’s political engagement and examining the influence of his Catalan identity, the Spanish Civil War and the rise and fall of Franco’s regime.

Miró was among the most iconic of modern artists, evolving a Surrealist language of symbols that evokes a sense of freedom and energy in its fantastic imagery and direct colour.

Often regarded as a forefather of Abstract Expressionism, his work is celebrated for its serene, colourful allure. Though, from his earliest paintings, there is a more anxious and engaged side to Miró’s practice, reflecting the turbulent political times in which he lived. This exhibition explores these passionate characteristics across six decades of his extraordinary career.

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape examines the artist’s degrees of engagement over his lifetime. These are rooted in the complex identity politics associated with Catalonia, as revealed through Miró’s representation of its landscape and traditions.

These depictions range across images of rural life, such as The Farm 1921-2 which Ernest Hemingway bought from the artist in Paris, to the masterly sequence of the Head of a Catalan Peasant 1924-5. The tensions that erupted with the Spanish Civil War in 1935-9 elicited Miró’s explicit protests in Aidez l’Espagne and Le Faucheur 1937, as well as more private and troubled responses disguised in the renowned Constellation paintings of 1940, made in the Second World War.

Under Franco’s regime, Miró worked in a kind of internal exile in Spain while cultivating a reputation abroad as a hero of post-war abstraction. Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape showcases masterpieces from this era, including the sublime The Hope of a Condemned Man triptych 1973. The exhibition also reveals how he captured the atmosphere of protest in the late 1960s. Whether blackening or setting fire to his works, such as May 1968 and Burnt Canvas II, 1973, or creating euphoric explosions of paint in Fireworks, 1974, Miró continued to reflect the political mood in his radical and pioneering practice.

Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in Barcelona on 20 April 1893 and trained as an artist at the Galí Academy from 1912-15. From 1923, he spent part of each year in Paris and became a key figure in the Surrealist movement. With his young family he remained in France during the Spanish Civil War, but returned to Spain when the Germans invaded in 1940. Miró settled in Majorca and remained based there for much of the rest of his life, travelling for major commissions and exhibitions around the world. He died at home on 25 December 1983.

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape is co-organised by Tate Modern and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, where it can be seen in October 2011, before travelling to the National Gallery of Art, Washington in May 2012. The exhibition is conceived by Tate curators Matthew Gale, Marko Daniel and Kerryn Greenberg in collaboration with Teresa Montaner, curator at Fundació Joan Miró. Rosa Maria Malet, Director, Fundació Joan Miró, and Vicente Todolí, former Director, Tate Modern, are consultants.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Help Spain (Aidez L'Espagne), 1937. Pochoir, composition: 24.8 x 19.4 cm; sheet, folded: 31.9 x 25.3 cm. © 2011 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Head of a Catalan Peasant (Tête de paysan Catalan), 1925, Oil on canvas, support: 920 x 732 x 26 mm frame: 1187 x 999 x 91 mm, Tate Collection.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Hope of a Condemned Man I-II-III, 1973, Triptych, Installation view, December, 2006. Fundació Miró, Barcelona. © Esco & Güilmon.

 

Joan Miró (1893-1983), Women and Bird in the Moonlight (Femmes, oiseau au clair de lune), 1949, Oil on canvas, support: 813 x 660 mm frame: 1049 x 897 x 114 mm, Tate Collection, © Successió Miró/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002.

 

Joan Miró, Personnage, 1975, Ex. 3/4 Bronze, Ex. 3 / 4, Gießerei Susse, Arcueil, Paris, 200 x 114 x 124 cm, Galerie Lelong, Paris, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Courtesy Galerie Lelong, Paris.

Joan Miró, Silence, 1968, Öl auf Leinwand, 173,4 x 242,9 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée national d’Art moderne / Centre de création industrielle, Schenkung 1982, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: bpk / CNAC-MNAM / Jean-François Tomasian.

Between Figuration and Abstraction, Miro's Language of Poetry

Joan Miró, Peinture, 1936, Öl auf Masonit, 78 x 108 cm, Privatsammlung, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Peinture, um 1974, Öl und Kreide auf Leinwand, 270 x 355 cm, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Palma de Mallorca, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Nature Morte (Nature morte à la lampe), 1928, Öl auf Leinwand, 89 x 116 cm, Privatsammlung, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Reto Rodolfo Pedrini.

Joan Miró, La Sieste, 1925, Öl auf Leinwand, 113 x 146 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’Art Moderne / Centre de création industrielle, Ankauf 1977, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: bpk / CNAC-MNAM / Jean-François Tomasian.

Joan Miró, La Bouteille de vin, 1924, Öl auf Leinwand, 73,5 x 65,5 cm, Sammlung Lola Fernández, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Courtesy Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

Joan Miró, L´Or de l´azur, 1967, Acryl auf Leinwand, 205 x 173 cm, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Jaume Blassi.

Joan Miró, Mont-roig, l’église et le village, 1919, Öl auf Leinwand, 73 x 61 cm (73 x 60 cm), Privatsammlung, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Joan Ramon Bonet.

Joan Miró, Femme espagnole, 1972, Öl auf Leinwand, 162,5 x 131 cm, Privatsammlung, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Joan Ramon Bonet.

Joan Miró, Peinture, 1953, Öl auf mit dem Hohlmeißel bearbeitetem Karton, 75 x 55 cm, Galerie Lelong, Paris, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Courtesy Galerie Lelong Paris.

 

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8 b
+ (00)49–(0)7221–39898-0
Baden-Baden
Miró. The colours of poetry
July 2-November 14, 2010

“Miró style was not abstract or figurative, he used a very poetic language in his paintings“, Jean-Louis Prat explaines. Miró‘s contemporary artists, he says, banned colour from their paintings, for Miró, though, colour always retained great importance. Thus colours red, green, yellow and blue are dominant in his paintings to be seen at the exhibition, illuminated by natural light in the Richard Meier building. Miró admired nature, he was fascinated and inspired by everyday objects and their beauty. Freedom, sense of humor, ease, but also violations of esthetic style are typical of the works of the painter, draftsman, ceramic artist and sculptor, born in 1893 in Barcelona. He always avoided standstill or living in the past.

The exhibition includes rare smaller works from Miró’s early creative years. They help understand his development as an artist, evolving from figured presentation to symbolic picture subjects and ever recurring symbols.

These mysterious symbols and colour stains on canvas, which resemble a music score but seem to emerge from a kind of dream world, are typical of Miró’s paintings. They reappear in his ceramic works and sculptures, contrasting his pictures.

The grand summer exhibition at the Museum Frieder Burda is dedicated to the artist Joan Miró. Under the title Miró. The colours of poetry the museum shows around 100 works by the Catalan artist who so strongly influenced art of the 20th century. The pictures cover six decades of Miró’s work. Various famous private collectors and museums from all over the world are sending their pictures to Baden-Baden. A large number of works owned by the Miró-family itself will be shown as well, this being a rare occasion. Also, the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca has promised first-class works for Baden-Baden. More than 30 international lenders are involved in this Miró exhibition.

The colourful paintings represent the main part of the exhibition, completed by paper works, ceramic works and sculptures. The exhibition is curated by Jean-Louis Prat, who was a close friend of Miró’s and organized exhibitions for him back then. Jean-Louis Prat, director of the famous Fondation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence, southern France, for more than 30 years, is considered worldwide to be an expert on sculptures. In 2008, Prat curated the exhibition “The sculptures of painters“ and in 2006 the grand Chagall exhibition, visited by more than 190.000 interested people.

The exhibition at the Museum Frieder Burda emphasizes the turning points in Miró‘s creative work. Joan Miró: “People will gradually understand better that I opened the doors to a different future, a future without false doctrines or fanaticisms."

Joan Miró i Ferrà (April 20, 1893 – December 25, 1983; was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramist born in Barcelona.

Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.

Born to the families of a goldsmith and watchmaker, the young Miró was drawn towards the arts community that was gathering in Montparnasse and in 1920 moved to Paris. There, under the influence of the poets and writers, he developed his unique style: organic forms and flattened picture planes drawn with a sharp line. Generally thought of as a Surrealist because of his interest in automatism and the use of sexual symbols (for example, ovoids with wavy lines emanating from them), Miró’s style was influenced in varying degrees by Surrealism and Dada, yet he rejected membership to any artistic movement in the interwar European years. André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, described him as "the most Surrealist of us all." Miró confessed to creating one of his most famous works, Harlequin's Carnival, under similar circumstances:

"How did I think up my drawings and my ideas for painting? Well I'd come home to my Paris studio in Rue Blomet at night, I'd go to bed, and sometimes I hadn't any supper. I saw things, and I jotted them down in a notebook. I saw shapes on the ceiling..."

Joan Miró was originally part of the Generation of '27, a collective made up of Spanish poets, writers, painters and film makers that included Luis Buñuel, Miguel Hernández, José María Hinojosa and García Lorca. The latter three were murdered by Franco during Spain's fascist reign. Buñuel and a few other artists were able to flee for France and the US. Miró was among these exiles. It is also important to note that Miró's surrealist origins evolved out of "repression" much like all Spanish surrealist and majic realist work, especially since the Catalan ethnicity to which he pertained was subject to special persecution by the Franco regime. Also, Joan Miró was well aware of Haitian Voodoo art and Cuban Santería religion through his travels before going into exile. This led to his signature style of art making.

In 1926, he collaborated with Max Ernst on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. With Miró's help, Ernst pioneered the technique of grattage, in which he troweled pigment onto his canvases. Miró married Pilar Juncosa in Palma (Majorca) on October 12, 1929; their daughter Dolores was born July 17, 1931. Shuzo Takiguchi published the first monograph on Miró in 1940. In 1948-49, although living in Barcelona, Miró made frequent visits to Paris to work on printing his techniques at the Mourlot Studios (lithographs) and at the Atelier Lacourière (engravings). A close relationship lasting forty years developed with the printer Fernand Mourlot and resulted in the production of over one thousand different lithographic editions.

In 1959, André Breton asked Miró to represent Spain in The Homage to Surrealism exhibition together with works by Enrique Tábara, Salvador Dalí, and Eugenio Granell. Miró created a series of sculptures and ceramics for the garden of the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, which was completed in 1964.

Throughout the 1960s, Miró was a featured artist in many salon shows assembled by Maeght that also included works by Marc Chagall, Giacometti, Brach, Cesar, Ubac, and Tal-Coat.

Miró was among the first artists to develop automatic drawing as a way to undo previous established techniques in painting, and thus, with André Masson, represented the beginning of Surrealism as an art movement. However, Miró chose not to become an official member of the Surrealists in order to be free to experiment with other artistic styles without compromising his position within the group. He pursued his own interests in the art world, ranging from automatic drawing and surrealism, to expressionism and Color Field painting.

Miró's oft-quoted interest in the assassination of painting is derived from a dislike of bourgeois art of any kind, used as a way to promote propaganda and cultural identity among the wealthy. Specifically, Miró responded to Cubism in this way, which by the time of his quote had become an established art form in France. He is quoted as saying "I will break their guitar," referring to Picasso's paintings, with the intent to attack the popularity and appropriation of Picasso's art by politics.

"The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I'm overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun. There, in my pictures, tiny forms in huge empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains — everything which is bare has always greatly impressed me."

— Joan Miró, 1958, quoted in
Twentieth-Century Artists on Art

In an interview with biographer Walter Erben, Miró expressed his dislike for art critics, saying, they "are more concerned with being philosophers than anything else. They form a preconceived opinion, then they look at the work of art. Painting merely serves as a cloak in which to wrap their emaciated philosophical systems."[citation needed]

Four-dimensional painting is a theoretical type of painting Miró proposed in which painting would transcend its two-dimensionality and even the three-dimensionality of sculpture.[citation needed]

In the final decades of his life Miró accelerated his work in different media, producing hundreds of ceramics, including the Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun at the UNESCO building in Paris. He also made temporary window paintings (on glass) for an exhibit. In the last years of his life Miró wrote his most radical and least known ideas, exploring the possibilities of gas sculpture and four-dimensional painting.

In 1974, Miró created a tapestry for the World Trade Center in New York City. He had initially refused to do a tapestry, then he learned the craft and produced several ones. His World Trade Center Tapestry was displayed for many years at World Trade Center building. It was one of the most expensive works of art lost during the September 11 attacks, in which the towers were destroyed in a terrorist action.

In 1981, Miró's The Sun, the Moon and One Star — later renamed Miró's Chicago — was unveiled. This large, mixed media sculpture is situated outdoors in the downtown Loop area of Chicago, across the street from another large public sculpture, the Chicago Picasso. Miró had created a bronze model of The Sun, the Moon and One Star in 1967. The model now resides in the Milwaukee Art Museum.

His works are accompanied by explanatory texts and historical photographs, which enable visitors to understand Miró’s life and work. A comprehensive catalogue accompanies the exhibition: Miró. The colours of poetry, edited by Jean-Louis Prat and the Foundation Frieder Burda, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2010, 224 pages, priced € 24,80.

Joan Miró, Peinture (Boîte à surprise), 1953, Öl auf Leinwand, 192,7 x 129,5 cm, Sammlung Nahmad, Schweiz, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Goutte d’eau sur la neige rose, 1968, Öl auf Leinwand, 195,5 x 130,5 cm, Privatsammlung, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Femme, 1981, Ex. 1/6, Gießerei Parellada, Barcelona, Bronze, 202 x 105 x 76 cm, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Femme, monument, 1970, Kunstgießerei Bonvicini, Verona, Bronze, 250 x 100 x 50 cm, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010.

Joan Miró, Flèche transperçant fumée, 1926, Öl auf Leinwand, 40 x 56 cm, Sammlung Ulla und Heiner Pietzsch, Berlin, © Successió Miró / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010, Foto: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin.

 

Joan Miró, Birth of Day I-III, 1964, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul.

Miró 1956, finally with a Large Studio and a Universe of Inspiration

Joan Miró, Personage, 1967, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul.

Joan Miró, The Caress of a Bird, 1967, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul.

 

Arken
Skovvej 100
+ 43540222
Ishøj
Miró – I work like a gardener
January 23-May 30, 2010

Everything in the world was alive for Miró. The world-famous Spanish-Catalan artist saw himself as a gardener, his studio as a kitchen garden and his art works as plants that grew under his expert care. ARKEN presents Miró’s wondrous universe and his worldview at this year’s major spring exhibition Miró – I work like a gardener.

“I think of my studio as a vegetable garden. Here, there are artichokes. Over there, potatoes. The leaves have to be cut so the vegetables can grow. At a certain moment, you must prune. I work like a gardener or a wine grower.”

— Joan Miró 1959

In 1956 Joan Miró (1893-1983) at last got the large studio he had always dreamed of. The studio was next to his newly-built home on Majorca. There he found space to express himself freely with all his possessions and works around him. The famous abstract-surrealist painter could wallow in new media and materials. In particular, he plunged into sculpture: over the years, on Majorca and in the area around Barcelona, he had found a wealth of worn-out tools, branches, stones and other things that appealed to him. He pieced together the found objects in sculptures that were later cast in bronze and sometimes painted in bright primary colours.

Arken’s Miró exhibition presents 111 sculptures, paintings and works on paper as well as works in textile and ceramics created by the world-famous artist in the studio on Majorca. The exhibition has been given the title Miró – I work like a gardener. Miró regarded everything in the universe as alive and as part of a great interconnected totality. He compared himself to a gardener who simply had to open himself up to and cultivate the inherent power of the materials themselves.

The sculptures typically have titles like “Woman” or “Personage”. Miró transformed the objects and their meaning. The straw hat of a donkey becomes the face of a sculpture. An old butcher’s block forms the legs of a curious character. An ironing-board or a toilet seat is viewed as the belly of a strange creature. When we look at the sculpture we can break it down into individual components or see it as a whole, as a creature of the imagination. Like Miró we can both see the thing’s original function and open our minds to other meanings and possibilities.

The sculptures underscore Miró’s fundamental belief in a living, dynamic world full of possibilities. The late sculptures contribute to a new understanding of Miró’s painting, which is also dynamic and eternally mutable. A dot in a painting by Miró can be understood in turn as an abstract dot, as a remote planet or as the eye of a possible creature looking back at you. Everything comes alive in Miró’s universe.

Most of the works in Miró – I work like a gardener have been lent out by Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, which has the world’s largest collection of Miró sculptures and owns one of the most important Miró collections anywhere. Two works have been lent out from the Maeght family’s private collection. Marguerite and Aimé Maeght were Miró’s gallerists, business partners and close friends for many years.

The exhibition has been curated by Arken and will subsequently be shown at Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo. A generous catalogue is being published in Danish, Norwegian and English, and will include the article Miró’s Garden of the World by Peter Borum, post-doc., who inscribes Miró’s work in a new framework of understanding with a point of departure in German and especially French philosophy.

Joan Miró, Woman and Bird, 1973, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul.

Joan Miró, Woman Bird I, 1964, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul.

 

Joan Miró, Dibuix-collage (Drawing-collage), 1933, Pencil and collage on paper, 108 x 70 cm, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. On loan from Emili Fernández Miró, © Successió Miró, Palma de Mallorca.

Reconsidering Miró with New Works on Paper from the Miró Family

Joan Miró, Personatges sobre fons vermell (Figures on red background), c. 1939, Gouache on paper, 48 x 63,5 cm, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. On loan from Emili Fernández Miró, © Successió Miró, Palma de Mallorca.

Joan Miró, Collage-peinture (Collage-painting), 1934, Oil, gouache and collage on paper, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. On loan from Emili Fernández Miró, © Successió Miró, Palma de Mallorca.

 

Fundació Joan Miró
Parc de Montjuïc
+ 34 934 439 470
Barcelona
A New Approach to Joan Miró, New Works on Paper
January 14, 2010-Ongoing

The Joan Miró Foundation is adding 17 new original works on paper, loaned by the Miró family, to its permanent displays. With the assistance of the Catalan Government, it has also remodelled its Permanent Collection.

The Miró Foundation opened its doors in 1975 as a centre for contemporary art where both experts and the general public could come into contact with Miró’s work through the pieces the artist, as well as his friends and relatives, donated to the institution.

Together, all these items make up the largest collection of the artist’s work.

The museum holdings have now been extended to include seventeen original works on paper, produced between 1931 and 1953, a loan from the Miró family.

Over the years, paper was the material that Joan Miró most frequently used, and he worked with all kinds, from sandpaper and cardboard to newspaper and other printed materials.

His artistic output in this medium was innovative and daring. Moreover, the immediacy resulting from working on paper allows for a closer look at the artist’s method.

The new displays feature wall texts that explain the different techniques used by Miró — from painting and sculpture, to textiles, ceramics, and prints — and place his artistic development within its original historical context: his training in Barcelona, the time he spent in Paris, his relations with the early avant-garde, his interest in experimentation, and the emergence of a highly personal style.

The panels are illustrated with images of the artist at different stages of his career to enhance the visitors’ experience and give a more complete understanding of his life and work.

The main pieces on display are also accompanied by short quotes from the artist to help visitors better recognise their relevance in Miró’s artistic development.

A new room for the screening of documentaries on the artist and a browsing station complete the new presentation of the permanent collection.

With its new displays, the Miró Foundation hopes to give a more accessible, yet in-depth view of the work of Joan Miró, an artist rooted in tradition but with a clear vision of things to come, who became one of the most idiosyncratic and influential figures in twentieth-century art.

Joan Miró, Femme Assise, (Seated woman), 1931, Oil on paper, 63 x 46 cm, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. On loan from Emili Fernández Miró, © Successió Miró, Palma de Mallorca.

 

Joan Miró, L'été (Summer), 1937, Gouache on paper mounted on canvas, 35,3 x 26,5 cm, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. On loan from Jimena Jiménez Madrazo, © Successió Miró, Palma de Mallorca.

Joan Miró. "Un Oiseau poursuit une abeille et la baisse." 1927, Oil, aqueous medium, and feathers on glue-sized canvas, 32-7/8 x 40-1/4", Private collection. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Joan Miró, the Man Who Wanted to 'Assassinate Painting'

Joan Miró. Portrait of a Dancer, 1928. Feather, cork, and hatpin on wood panel with household paint (original feather has been replaced), 39-3/8 x 31-1/2", Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne-Centre de creation industrielle, Paris. Gift of Mme. Aube Breton-Elléouët. Photograph credit: CNAC/MNAM/Dis. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró. Dutch Interior (I), 1928. Oil on canvas, 36-1/8 x 28-3/4", The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund, Photograph credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Department of Imaging Services. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró. Object, 1931, Oil, paint, and sand on wood stapled to wire mesh, 14-3/16 x 10-1/4 x 1-3/16", Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne-Centre de creation industrielle, Paris, Purchase, Photograph credit: CNAC/MNAM/Dis. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró. Rope and People, I, 1935, Oil on cardboard mounted on wood, with coil of rope, 41-1/4 x 29-3/8", The Museum of Modern Art, New Yor,. Gift of the Pierre Matisse Gallery, Photograph credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Department of Imaging Services, © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró. Painting (Head), 1930. Oil on canvas, 7' 6-5/8" x 65-3/16". Musée de Grenoble, Photograph credit: Musée de Grenobl,. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

 

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9400
New York
The Joan and
Preston Robert Tisch Gallery,
sixth floor
Joan Miró:
Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927-1937

November 2, 2008-January 12, 2009

Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937 is the first major museum exhibition to identify the core practices and strategies Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983) used to attack painting between 1927 and 1937, a transformative decade within his long career.

Taking his notorious claim — “I want to assassinate painting” — as its point of departure, the exhibition explores twelve of Miró’s sustained series from this decade, beginning with a 1927 group of works on unprimed canvas and concluding with 1937’s singular, hallucinatory painting,

Still Life with Old Shoe. Acidic color, grotesque disfigurement, purposeful stylistic heterogeneity, and the use of collage and readymade materials are among the aggressive tactics that Miró used in pursuit of his goal. By assembling in unprecedented depth the interrelated series of paintings, collages, objects, and drawings of this decade, this exhibition repeatedly poses the question of what painting meant to Miró and what he proposed as its opposite, and in the process reveals the artist’s paradoxical nature: an artist of violence and resistance who never ceased to be a painter, a creator of forms.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition is organized by Anne Umland, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and will be on view in The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery, sixth floor, from November 2, 2008, through January 12, 2009.

Joan Miró i Ferrà (April 20, 1893-December 25, 1983) was an ethnic Catalan (of nationality) painter, sculptor and ceramicist born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeoise society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favor of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.

Born to the family of a goldsmith and watchmaker, the young Miró was drawn towards the arts community that was gathering in Montparnasse and in 1920 moved to Paris, France.

There, under the influence of the poets and writers, he developed his unique style: organic forms and flattened picture planes drawn with a sharp line. Generally thought of as a Surrealist because of his interest in automatism and the use of sexual symbols (for example, ovoids with wavy lines emanating from them), Miró’s style was influenced in varying degrees by Surrealism and Dada, yet he rejected membership to any artistic movement in the interwar European years.

André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, described him as "the most Surrealist of us all." Miró confessed to creating one of his most famous works, Harlequin's Carnival, under similar circumstances:

"How did I think up my drawings and my ideas for painting? Well I'd come home to my Paris studio in Rue Blomet at night, I'd go to bed, and sometimes I hadn't any supper. I saw things, and I jotted them down in a notebook. I saw shapes on the ceiling..."

In 1926, he collaborated with Mac Ernst on designs for Sergia Diaghilev. With Miró's help, Ernst pioneered the technique of grattage, in which he troweled pigment onto his canvases.

Miró married Pilar Juncosa in Palma de Mallorca on October 12, 1929, their daughter Dolores was born July 17, 1931. Shuzo Takiguchi published the first monograph on Miró in 1940.

In 1948-49, although living in Barcelona, Miró made frequent visits to Paris to work on printing techniques at the Mourlot Studios (lithographs) and at the Atelier Lacouriere (engravings). A close relationship lasting forty years developed with the printer Ferdnand Mourlot and resulted in the production of over one thousand different lithographic editions.

In 1959, André Breton asked Miró to represent Spain in The Homage to Surrealism exhibition together with works by Enrique Tábarå, Salvador Dali, and Eugenio Granell.

Miró created a series of sculptures and ceramics for the garden of the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-en-Forêt, France, which was completed in 1964.

Miró was among the first artists to develop automatic drawing as a way to undo previous established techniques in painting, and thus, with André Masson, represented the beginning of Surrealism as an art movement. However, Miró chose not to become an official member of the Surrealists in order to be free to experiment with other artistic styles without compromising his position within the group.

He pursued his own interests in the art world, ranging from automatic drawing and surrealism, to expressionism and Color Field painting.

Miró's oft-quoted interest in the assassination of painting is derived from a dislike of bourgeoise art of any kind, used as a way to promote propaganda and cultural identity among the wealthy.

Specifically, Miró responded to Cubism in this way, which by the time of his quote had become an established art form in France. He is quoted as saying "I will break their guitar," referring to Picasso's paintings, with the intent to attack the popularity and appropriation of Picasso's art by politics.

In an interview with biographer Walter Erben, Miró expressed his dislike for art critics, saying, they "are more concerned with being philosophers than anything else. They form a preconceived opinion, then they look at the work of art. Painting merely serves as a cloak in which to wrap their emaciated philosophical systems."

Four-dimensional painting is a theoretical type of painting Miró proposed in which painting would transcend its two-dimensionality and even the three-dimensionality of sculpture.

In his final decades Miró accelerated his work in different media, producing hundreds of ceramics, including the Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun at the UNESCO building in Paris.

He also made temporary window paintings (on glass) for an exhibit. In the last years of his life Miró wrote his most radical and least known ideas, exploring the possibilities of gas sculpture and four-dimensional painting.

One of Miró’s most important works in the United States is his first and only glass mosaic mural, Personnage Oiseaux (Bird Characters), 1972-1978.

Especially created for Wichita State University's Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Kansas. The mural is one of Miró’s largest two-dimensional projects, undertaken when he was 79 and completed when he was 85 years of age. Fabrication of the mural was actually completed in 1977, but Miró did not consider it finished until the installation was complete.

The glass mosaic was the first for Miró. Although he wanted to do others, time was against him and he was not able. He was to come to the dedication of the mural in 1978, but he fell at his studio in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and was unable to travel. His island home and studio in Mallorca served him from 1956 until his death in 1983.

The entire south wall of the Ulrich Museum is the foundation for the 28 ft. by 52 ft. (8.53 m. x 15.85 m.) mural, comprised of one million pieces of marble and Venetian glass mounted on specially treated wood, attached to the concrete wall on an aluminum grid. A gift of the artist, donor groups paid for the fabrication by Ateliers Loire of Chartres, France, and for its installation. The Ulrich Museum also acquired the 5 ½ ft. by 12 ft. oil on canvas maquette for the mural, but it has since been sold to establish a fund to support the museum’s acquisitions and any repairs needed to the mural. The entire mural was originally assembled by one artisan at Ateliers Loire using Miró’s maquette as a guide.

Fabricated under Miró’s personal direction and completed in 1977, the 40 panels comprising the mural were shipped to WSU, and the mural was installed on the Ulrich Museum’s façade in 1978. Although it has received little recognition, the mural is a seminal work in the artist’s career, being one of Miró’s largest two-dimensional works in North America and the only type of its kind by the artist.

Miró received a doctorate honoris causa in 1979 from the University of Barcelona.

He died bedridden at his home in Palma, Mallorca on December 25, 1083. He suffered from heart disease and had visited a clinic for respiratory problems two weeks before his death.

Many of his pieces are exhibited today in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and Funcació Joan Miró in Montjuïc, Barcelona; his body is buried nearby, at the Montjuïc cemetery. Today, Miró's paintings sell for between US$250,000 and US$17 million; the latter was the auction price for the La Caresse des étoiles on May 6, 2008 and is the highest amount paid for one of his works.

Joan Miró won several awards in his lifetime. In 1954 he was given the Venice Biennale print making prize, in 1958 the Guggenheim International Award, and in 1980 he received the Gold Medal of Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Joan Miró. Collage (Head of Georges Auric), 1929, Tar paper and conté crayon on paper, 43-5/16 x 29-1/2", Kunsthaus Zürich, Gift of Dr. Georges and Josi Guggenheim, Photograph credit: Kunsthaus Zürich, © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Joan Miró. The Two Philosophers, 1936, Oil on copper, 14 x 19-5/8", The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mary and Leigh Block. Photo: The Art Institute of Chicago. © 2008 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.