Acquired from the above in 1998
Joan Miró: Peintures, sculptures, dessins, ceramiques (exhibition catalogue), Saint-Paul, Fondation Maeght, 1979, illustration of another cast p. 190
Alain Jouffroy & Joan Teixidor, Miró Sculptures, Paris, 1980, no. 289, illustration of another cast in color p. 200
Joan Miró: Milano; pittura, Scultura, Ceramica, Desegni, Sobreteixims, Grafica (exhibition catalogue), Milan, 1981, illustration of another cast p. 105
Miro escultor (exhibition catalogue), Madrid, Centro Reina Sofia; Barcelona, Fundacio Joan Miro, 1986-87, illustration of another cast p. 150
Pierre Gimferrer, The Roots of Miró, Barcelona, 1993, no. 594, illustrated in color p. 305
Barbara Catoir, Miró on Mallorca, Munich-New York, 1995, p. 73
Franco Basile, Joan Miró, Bologna, 1997, illustration of another cast p. 255
Emilo Fernández Miró & Pilar Ortega Chapel, Joan Miró, Sculptures. Catalogue raisonné, 1928-1982, Paris, 2006, no. 339, illustration of another cast p. 321
The term Gothic defines a style of architecture of the middle ages, best known for its ogival arches. Miró's use of the word, however, denotes its second meaning pertaining to the mysterious and phantasmagoric. While powerful, Personnage gothique, oiseau eclair, relates to this impressive architectural form, it also evokes the more exotic, visceral art of cultures. Looming above the viewer like an implacable guardian, this sculpture is an otherworldly presence not unlike the giant stone heads of Easter Island. While tapping into a primal impulse, Miró, like other post-war Modernist sculptors such as Alberto Giacometti, is wholly of his time. He mixes his sources making multi-cultural references, while experimenting with medium and process.
The monumental Personnage gothique, oiseau éclair exemplifies the expressive power of Miró's late sculpture. As working with found objects was a common practice amongst the Dadaists and Surrealists, Miró seized upon this means of creative expression with fervor. The act of creating beauty and investing new life into the inanimate had overtly divine connotations, especially when executed on a grand scale. The present sculpture, its elegant swells, concaves and indentations, is a superb example of the aesthetic potential of Miró's endeavor. Miró constructed this impressive form by using a corrugated cardboard box for the head and a donkey's yoke for the body. On top of the box, he mounted a "bird," the only hand-modeled element. Throughout his oeuvre, the bird is a metaphor for transcendence through flight.
Enlarging the entire assemblage through a series of plasters, he was able to remain faithful both to the original source material while creating a massive presence. The imposing nature of these monumental works is heightened not only by their size but by what appears to be the precarious balance of the elements. The out-sized cast of the cardboard box, serving as the creature's head, appears to teeter atop the body, balanced over a narrow point. Although the head piece is firmly bolted to the body, fixing the parts in stasis with the threat of it toppling removed, the implicateion is still implied.
Jacques Dupin explained Miró's approach to creating his sculptures: "These works began with Miró slipping out of his studio, unseen, only to return with an impromptu harvest of objects, his bounty, without value or use, but susceptible, in his view, of combinations and surprising metamorphoses. All of these objects had been abandoned, thrown away or forgotten by nature and man alike, and Miró recognized them as his own.... For Miró, all paths were strewn with such marvelous nothings, all of life's refuse remained alive." (Jacques Dupin, op. cit., p. 374).
Personnage gothique, oiseau éclair was cast in a numbered edition of 2 during the artist's lifetime, plus one nominative cast created posthumously for the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca. Cast 2/2 is in the collection of the National Gallery, Washington DC, making the Braman cast the only one in private hands.
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