Lot 395
  • 395

Joan Miró

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joan Miró
  • Personnage, oiseaux
  • Signed Miró (lower right); titled Personnage, oiseaux and dated 4/XI/75 (on the verso)
  • Wax crayon, pastel, ink wash and string on paper
  • 23 3/8 by 31 3/8 in.
  • 59.3 by 79.8 cm


Galerie Lelong, Paris
Galleria Tega, Milan
Private Collection, Switzerland


Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné. Drawings, vol. IV, Paris, 2013, no. 2807, illustrated in color p. 208

Catalogue Note

Executed with characteristic vigor, Personnage, oiseau is a striking example of Miró's late work and features his most famous iconography. From the beginning of his career Miró developed a poetic language composed of the bird, woman, figure, sun, moon and stars, but it was with the pivotal Constellations series of 1941 that this pictorial lexicon became his primary subject. As Miró stated, "a new stage in my work began which had its source in music and nature. It was about the time that the war broke out. I felt a deep desire to escape" (quoted in Janis Mink, Joan Miró: 1893-1983, p. 67). The present work conveys the powerful importance these symbols held for the artist, the titular subject immersed in a dynamic composition that incorporates several media. A piece of string, tied at each end, mirrors the sweeping crayon lines that move across the paper, and the momentum of restraint and freedom—of tying and untying—energizes the work. "When an artist speaks in an environment in which freedom is difficult," Miró explained, "he must turn each of his works into...an untying of all oppressions, all prejudices, and all the false values" (quoted in Joan Miró (exhibition catalogue), Tate Modern, London; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona & National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2011-12, p. 15).

Personnage, oiseau displays the artist’s fascination with the relationship between the pictorial and musical, the composition framed by the image of musical notation. "[Miró] liked Jazz a great deal," Joan Gardy Artigas, the artist’s companion at jazz clubs in New York and Chicago, wrote, and the influence of the music is strongly felt in the later works. The Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck pointed to the affinities between Miró’s style and the dynamic rhythms of Jazz: "he has expressed in visual terms my own approach to music—that is, a search for something new within old forms, an unexpected perspective, a surprising order and inner balance that belies the spontaneity of composition" (quoted in Brenda Lynne Leach, Looking and Listening: Conversations between Art and Music, Lanham, Maryland, 2014, p. 73). Intricately composed and structured, the present work communicates a spontaneous frisson like that of an improvised jazz solo. As Jacques Dupin proposed, '[is] the bird not the painter himself who looks...above all for the power to fly and sing with intensity?” (Jacques Dupin, Miró,  Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1979, p. 26).

Fig. 1 Joan Miró, Femmes, oiseau au clair de la lune, 1949, oil on canvas, Tate Gallery, London 

Fig. 2 Joan Miró, Tête humaine, 1931, oil, wood, wire, sandpaper and thread on canvas, sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 2, 2012, lot 11 for $14,866,500