Details & Cataloguing

Surrealist Art Evening Sale


Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
signed Joan Miró, dated 9.31 and titled on the reverse
oil, pastel and gouache on paper
62 by 47cm.
24 3/8 by 18 1/2 in.
Painted in September 1931.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Jacques Dupin.


Roger Dutilleul, Paris

Private Collection, France (acquired by descent from the above)

Private Collection (acquired from the above circa 2005. Sold: Christie’s, New York, 7th November 2007, lot 230)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Executed in Paris in 1931, Danseuse is an important work which exemplifies the ‘anti-painting’ style Miró pioneered in the 1930s. The cobalt blue eye that forms the centre of the composition, is a particularly important motif which recurred throughout the artist's work (fig. 1), and acted as symbol of his Surrealist consciousness. This work belongs to a series of paintings executed on Ingres paper which formed the basis for the artist’s new mode of expression. Discussing the group with Lluís Permanyer in 1978, Miró stated: ‘I painted this way after having become obsessed with “assassinating painting”. I wanted to eliminate at the root an entire decrepit art, the old conception of painting, so that another art, more pure and authentic, would be born. So it was a question of a “positive crime”. […] I demanded a complete purity of spirit. I executed works from that period […] without any previous sketches. I would take a sheet of paper, wet the brush, and outline an unconscious drawing in black. I did exactly what Matisse said to do and in a more profound way than the surrealists: I let myself be guided by my hand. Then I added the color. Color was very important in these works, because the black lines were very strong and left large white spaces; then I added the spots in oil to give the colors a maximum of richness and above all to achieve the creation of an atmosphere. Since the topic did not seem sufficiently clear, I almost always used realistic titles that came to me as I worked on the canvas and the composition led me to represent a man or a woman. I never did it in reverse, tying the work to the title’ (quoted in Joan Miró 1893/1993 (exhibition catalogue), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 280). 

In his catalogue raisonné of Miró’s work, Jacques Dupin chose to include the pictures on Ingres paper in the volume devoted to his paintings rather than drawings. The present work is an important addition to this group which was discovered after the publication of the catalogue raisonné, and it exhibits all of the key characteristics which Dupin discerned in them: ‘The paintings on Ingres paper of 1931 form a homogenous series of highly structured works with wide bands of oil paint whose bold colors are offset by a framework of black lines. These are closer to paintings than works on paper’ (J. Dupin, Joan Miró Catalogue raisonné. Paintings, Paris, 2000, vol. II, p. 8).

The first owner of Danseuse was Roger Dutilleul (1873-1956), who formed one of the most significant collections of modern art in France. The head of his family’s successful cement manufacturing firm, Dutilleul began collecting around 1907 under the guidance of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Ambroise Vollard and Léonce Rosenberg. Initially captivated by Braque and Picasso’s Cubism, he went on to own works by Modigliani - who painted his portrait in 1919 - Léger, Soutine and Utrillo. In 1979 his widow donated a significant part of his collection to the Musée d'Art Moderne de Lille at Villeneuve d'Ascq.

Surrealist Art Evening Sale