NEW YORK - As profound and endlessly inventive in three dimensions as he was in two, Joan Miró was one of the great sculptors of the 20th century. On the evening of May 5th, Sotheby’s will offer one of the artist’s most inventive sculptures Femme et oiseau of 1971.

Joan Miró, Femme et oiseau, 1971. Estimate $600,000–800,000.

In the 1930s, Miró’s output was based on the assemblage of found objects from which he created powerful totemic presences such as Objet poétique of 1936.

A decade later, Miró took a brief departure from creating through an additive process in order to model forms such as the seminal Oiseau Lunaire. This smooth surfaced, volumetric sentinel bears a kinship to the great post-war figuration of Henry Moore. By the late 1950s, Miró had returned to aggregating found objects and began for the first time to cast these unique sculptures into bronze editions.  

Joan Miró, Objet poétique, circa 1936.

Femme et oiseau of 1971 was created from found objects that the artist assembled and cast in bronze. For this assemblage, Miró transformed the head of a common shovel into the head of a totemic female figure. The hand-modeled bird positioned above the head, refers to a recurrent theme of flight and transcendence. Throughout his career, Miró was seeking to create a universal sign language, signifiers of elemental themes that are at once both Paleolithic and profoundly modern.

Joan Miró, Oiseau lunaire, 1945.

Femme et oiseau of 1971 was originally made by Miró as a unique sculpture created by the sand casting method at the Fundació Parellada in Barcelona. Later on, three additional bronzes were cast: one is in the collection of the Fundació Joan Miró and another at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The present work is the first, unnumbered cast of this subject in bronze that was created during the artist's lifetime. It was sold by Miró's dealer Pierre Matisse to a private collection in New York, who later sold it at Sotheby's in 2008 to the present owner.