Estate of the artist
Private Collection, Spain
Acquired from the above in 2007
Miró's impressive Personnages dans un paysage, painted in the last decade of the artist's life, is an exceptional example of abstraction at its most daring. Although no figurative elements of a traditional landscape are visible, the artist only evokes the properties of this genre through the mossy green, sky blue and sunny yellow of his palette. His brushy application of color is offset by the opaque blots of paint that richly imbue the composition. When he painted this work in 1973, Miró was primarily concerned with reducing his pictorial language to its barest essentials. "Through this rarefaction and seeming lack of prudence," explains his biographer Jacques Dupin, "the canvas' pictorial energy was in fact magnified, and his painting strikingly reaffirmed. This process also seemed like a breath of fresh air, or an ecstatic present from which new signs, colors, and the full freedom of gesture surged forth. By limiting the colors of his palette, Miró's enduring themes yielded works of various sizes, proportions rhythms, and resonances" (J. Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 337-38).
The frenetic expressivenes of the artist's brushwork here calls to mind the works of Willem De Kooning completed around the same time. 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 large scale, such as in the present work. The paintings he created from the early 1950s onwards are a fascinating response to these new trends of abstraction, while at the same time showing Miró's allegiance to his own artistic pursuits.
By the time he completed the present work in 1973, Miró's composition had gained a level of expressive freedom and exuberance that evidenced his confidence in his craft. Images of women, stars, birds and moons were omnipresent in his pictures to the point that these elements became memes for the artist's own identity. Jacques Dupin elaborated on the semiotic importance of the figuration in these late paintings, "[t]he sign itself was no longer the image's double, it was rather reality assimilated then spat out by the painter, a reality he had incorporated then liberated, like air or light. The importance of the theme now depended on its manner of appearing or disappearing, and the few figures Miró still endlessly named and inscribed in his works are the natural go-between and guarantor of the reality of his universe. It would perhaps be more fruitful to give an account of those figures that have disappeared than of the survivors" (ibid. pp. 339-40).
This extraordinarly colorful composition remained in Miró's collection until the end of his life and was kept by his heirs. As was the case for most of these late works, the artist completed the picture in his studio in Palma de Mallorca, where the warm Mediterranean sunlight and invigorating sea air enlivened his desire to paint bold and exuberant oils.
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