Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Sale: Christie's, New York, 12th May 1988, lot 347
Yayoi Gallery, Tokyo (purchased at the above sale)
Acquired from the above by the present owner
This open-mindedness to medium, though first expressed in 1938, was to become a defining feature of Miró’s broad-reaching and experimental career. It was during this period that Miró undertook several large scale painted murals at a variety of sites: Harvard University (1951), the UNESCO building in Paris (1958), the University of St. Gallen (1964), and even a restaurant within a large Cincinnati skyscraper (1947). For Miró, these projects fulfilled two of his most heartfelt ambitions – to engage in collaborative projects, and to integrate his art with the most advanced form of modern civilisation. Set against the backdrop of these large commissions, the present work, stands as a fitting relic to this onset of generous public spirit. The fibro-cement allows for unexpectedly bright, deep and uniform colours; blues, reds and blacks shine out from an otherwise neutral base. In this sense it is much closer to his oil paintings than his later ceramics, whose colouration is visibly dampened by both varnish and heat. Of Miró’s paintings of this period, Dupin has written of how they ‘disclose the artist’s pursuit of a fruitful clumsiness in his graphism, an attempt, as it were, to approximate the state of innocence requisite to coming upon some primitive treasure-trove’ (ibid., p. 442). This last phrase, mirroring the reaction of Picasso at Altamira, is a fitting epitaph to this powerful, primitive fragment of Miró’s imagination.
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