- Joan Miró
- Femme et oiseaux I
- Signed Miró (lower left); signed Miró, dated 5/1/67 and titled (on the reverse)
- Oil on sandpaper
- 79 3/4 by 25 in.
- 202.5 by 63.5 cm
Otto Preminger, New York (acquired on May 22, 1970)
Acquired circa 1990
Miró painted this work, along with the following lot which can be considered its counterpart, on January 5, 1967. This pair of paintings reveal the expressive freedom of Miró's mature works, but also recalls his Surrealist works and their employment of sandpaper. By this point in his career, the artist was concerned primarily with reducing his pictorial language to its 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, pp. 337-38).
For Miró, tangible subjects such as human figures, birds, stars, the sun, night and dusk formed a poetic language. After his Constellations series of 1941, these became the primary subjects of his art. He would take his lexicon of figures and elements to the very edge of abstraction in the decades that followed but even in a work as effusive and spontaneous as Femme et oiseaux recurring characters can be identified. The artist had always wanted a larger studio, a dream which was finally realized in 1956 when he moved to Palma de Mallorca. The dynamic and deliberate style of his work from the 1950s onward reflect the atmosphere of sunlit Mediterranean air and the freedom and spaciousness of his studio. The vertical monumentality of these two paintings from January of 1967 reveal the effect this would have on the artist, bringing the scale of his objects on par with the works of the Abstract Expressionists in America.
Miró sent the present work for sale to the United States, where he was represented by the New York dealer, Pierre Matisse. It was reunited with its couterpart picture only when it was acquired by the present owner.