In the mid-1940s, Miró’s celebrity in the United States was reaching fever pitch. Pierre Matisse had staged two major shows of the artist’s Constellation Series in New York to great acclaim in 1945, and over the next two years critics and young artists paid rapt attention to Miró’s productions. It was around this time that Miró made his first trip to the United States, arriving in February 1947 to work on a mural for Cincinnati’s Tony Terrace Plaza Hotel. With the help of his dealer Pierre Matisse and the artist Carl Holty, he set up a studio in New York and began his work. Thrilled to have him state-side, countless American art critics, writers and general admirers bombarded the artist with requests for interviews and meetings. At first, Miró was overwhelmed. “Well, here in New York I cannot lead the life I want to,” Miró said in an early interview that year. “There are too many appointments, too many people to see, and with so much going on I become too tired to paint.” Soon afterward Miró settled into a daily rhythm, limiting his social circle to a few choice artistic companions and associates. Among these acquaintances were Thomas and Diane Bouchard, to whom the artist dedicated the present work. Bouchard, who had experience photographing dancers, filmed Miró in the process of painting this picture, along with the major oil, also untitled, which is offered in our Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on May 7th. Both appear in his remarkable film Around and About Joan Miró, released nearly ten years after the creation of this painting was filmed.
What is so fascinating about this particular composition, as opposed to the pictures that Miró completed in the privacy of his studio, is that his audience can also witness the genesis of this picture. Much in the manner of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, which were also captured on film, this picture is a testament to the motion, hesitation and action of the artist as he arrives at his final composition. Indeed, we see that like Pollack would famously do years later, Miró lays his canvas on floor and in many instances drips paint directly from the lid (see fig. 2).
Interestingly, the present canvas is also signed Helion and dated New York 1946 by the artist Jean Hélion, another friend of the Bouchards who worked in the same building as Miró at the time. This same canvas appears as a sort of title card at the beginning of Bouchard’s film on Hélion, indicating that a practically minded Bouchard repurposed this canvas for both films.
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