Margit Rowell, Miró, New York, 1970, no. 126, illustrated
James Johnson Sweeney, Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1970, illustrated in colour p. 48
Michel Tapié, Joan Miró, Milan, 1970, no. 126, illustrated
Archives Maeght (ed.), Miró, l'artiste et l'oeuvre, Paris, 1971, no. 105, illustrated in colour p. 105
Pere Gimferrer, Miró, Catalan universel, Barcelona, 1978, no. 89, illustrated in colour p. 91
Rosa Maria Malet, Joan Miró, New York, 1983, no. 98, illustrated in colour
Francesc Català-Roca & Lluís Permanyer, Miró, noventa años, Barcelona, 1984, detail illustrated in a photograph no. 46
Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró. Catalogue Raisonné. Paintings, Paris, 2002, vol. IV, no. 1283, illustrated in colour p. 222
Painted in 1968, Femmes et oiseaux dans la nuit is a remarkable example of the expressive power of Miró's imagery, bordering between representation and abstraction. For the artist, figures, birds, stars, the moon, the sun, night and dusk formed a poetic language. He first introduced the motif of a woman with a bird, in a realistic manner, in his paintings of 1917, but it was only after his celebrated Constellations series of 1941, in which women, birds and stars feature prominently, that this theme became the primary subject of his art. Commenting on this subject matter, the artist himself pronounced: 'It might be a dog, a woman, or whatever. I don't really care. Of course, while I am painting, I see a woman or a bird in my mind, indeed, very tangibly a woman or a bird. Afterward, it's up to you' (J. Miró & Georges Raillard, Ceci est la couleur de mes rêves, Paris, 1977, p. 128).
Whilst taking recognisable objects as his starting point, in the present work Miró builds his composition using a pictorial lexicon of signs and symbols, in a style that characterised his post-war production. After his trip to New York in 1947, Miró became acquainted with the art of the Abstract Expressionists and was fascinated by their new techniques and their aesthetic agenda. As the artist later recalled, the experience of seeing canvases of the Abstract Expressionists was like 'a blow to the solar plexus.' Several young painters, including Jackson Pollock, were crediting Miró as their inspiration for their wild, paint-splattered canvases. In the years that followed, he created works that responded to the enthusiasm of this younger generation of American painters and the spontaneity of their art. It was also under their influence that he started painting on a larger scale, such as in the present work. The paintings he created at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s are a fascinating response to these new trends of abstraction, while at the same time showing Miró's allegiance to his own artistic pursuits. 'For me a form is never something abstract,' he once said, 'it is always a sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something else. For me painting is never form for form's sake' (quoted in M. Rowell, op. cit., p. 207).
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