Lot 37
  • 37

Joan Miró

15,000,000 - 20,000,000 USD
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  • Joan Miró
  • La Porte (Objet)
  • Signed Miró (center right)
  • Painted wood, metals, turkey feathers and other found objects
  • 36 1/2 by 23 1/2 in.
  • 93 by 59.7 cm


Claude Hersaint, Paris (presumably acquired from the artist)

Mr. & Mrs. William N. Copley, Longpont-sur-Orge & New York (by at least 1964 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 17, 1978, lot 71)

Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


New York, The Museum of Modern Art & Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Miró, 1959, no. 42 (no. 41 in Los Angeles)

London, The Tate Gallery & Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich (organised by The Arts Council of Great Britain), Joan Miró, 1964, no. 96

New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art & The Art Institute of Chicago, Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage, 1968, no. 234, illustrated in the catalogue

London, The Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, 1978, no. 11.27a, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Table moustache and as dating from 1927 with incorrect measurments)

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Joan Miró Retrospective, 1993-94, no. 97, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, El objecto surrealista, 1997


James Thrall Soby, Miró, New York, 1959, illustrated p. 77

Paul Walton, Dalí/Miró – Masters of Surrealism, New York, 1966, illustrated in colour p. 64

Margit Rowell, Joan Miró, Milan, 1970, no. 43, illustrated in color

Alain Jouffroy & Joan Teixidor, Miró Sculptures, Paris, 1973, no. 16, illustrated p. 193

Christopher Green, Picasso y Miró, 1930, El. Mago, el Nino y el Artista, Valencia, 1991, no. 9, illustrated p. 38

Saber ver, arte y recreación para toda la familia, June 1996, issue no. 4, illustrated in color p. 10 

Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró: Catalogue raisonné, Paintings, vol. II, 1931-41, Paris, 2000, no. 359, illustrated in color p. 37

Emilio Férnandez Miró & Pilar Ortega Chapel, Joan Miró, Sculpture. Catalogue raisonné 1928-1982, Paris, 2006, no. 13, illustrated in color p. 35

Miró: Earth (exhibition catalogue), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2008, illustrated in color p. 102

Jacques Dupin, Miró, Paintings, Paris, 2012, no. 392, illustrated in color p. 365


Please contact the Impressionist and Modern Art Department at (212) 606-7360 for the condition report for this lot.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

A rare masterpiece of "anti-painting," La Porte (Objet) provides a glimpse into the development of Miró's personal iconography. Resistant to categorization, Miró rejected labels and artistic agendas, choosing instead to discover a profoundly individual artistic vocabulary. Miró created this work during an intensely creative moment in his career, a time when he broke away from discernible influences and created wholly unique works. He generates here an eloquent dialogue between painting and the incorporation of found objects. Though redolent of both Dadaism and Surrealism, with a visionary expression, La Porte transcends the movements that dominated European Modernism at the time.  

Throughout the 1920s, Miró fostered an autonomous identity amid the circle of artists active in Paris. Associating with the Dadaists and subsequently the Surrealists, Miró began to develop his artistic voice. Through his fellow Spaniard and good friend, Pablo Picasso, Miró would meet many of the luminaries that dominated this culturally thriving metropolis. Though he absorbed the surrounding ethos and appreciated the aesthetic advances made by Picasso, Miró maintained a singular voice through his paintings. By the end of the decade, he had developed a poetic vocabulary that would wind its way throughout the remainder of his oeuvre. Miró created the present work at the end of this sojourn in Paris, just before he was forced to move back to Barcelona in 1932.

Collage became an important focus for Miró in the early 1930s. He looked beyond the myopic definitions of painting and searched for, in his own words, "anti-painting." He incorporated found objects onto the surfaces of his paintings, while playfully relying upon the rectilinear restrictions that had dominated the history of Western painting. This use of fully dimensional collage is not without precedent and finds a parallel in the works of Dadaists Hans Arp and Kurt Schwitters. However, Miró's ability to integrate the elements in the current work – circular wooden pieces, twine, sandpaper and thread – with the painted passages is entirely unique from Dada experiments. The result is an unprecedented choreography of sculptural object and painterly illusion.

The artist's use of collage was noted among his contemporaries. Catalan art critic, Sebastià Gasch, visited the artist's studio shortly after he painted the current work. Anne Umland writes of his experience there: "Gasch, following a visit to Montroig with Miró's friend and avant-garde patron Joan Prats in late September 1931, described the creative ambience in which Miró produced these works, comparing the artist's studio to a 'bric-a-brac store' filled with 'very bizarre objects,' including 'cane roots that resemble black idols, skeletal fragments found at the beach that resemble Egyptian sculptures, cork with incrustations of mollusks that have rich qualities, shells, dolls smashed, nails, pebbles, little mirrors of the carrer de la Boqueria, postcards from the carrer Nou.' Despite their oddity, Gasch went on to write, the objects in and of themselves are insignificant; it is only in Miró's juxtaposition of the materials that they are transformed to 'take on... an intense and penetrating life'" (A. Umland, Joan Miró, Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927-1937 [exhibition catalogue], The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008-09, p. 102).

The originality of Miró's works from the mid-1930s would have an immense effect on both his contemporaries and subsequent generations of artists. Vividly explored in a series of exhibitions at the Fondation Beyeler is the clear dialogue between Miró's paintings and the sculptures of his close friend Alexander Calder. Indeed, the intersecting forms in the present work find a parallel with Calder's mobiles and stabiles executed a few years later. Echoes of Miró's biomorphic formology can be found in works by other Surrealists, such as Yves Tanguy and Max Ernst. The personal iconography extant in the present work, however, is entirely unique to Miró. In this composition, the artist has embellished a wooden door with feathers and other found objects, adding paint to the composition to create an engaging visual ensemble.

The plasticity which pervades La Porte characterizes the strongest of Miró's compositions and became a beacon for artists in the latter half of the 20th century. Miró arrived at this formal language through years of personal exploration. Carolyn Lanchner has written of the "...force of his determination to assert a clear identity for his art. In order to express his particular experience of reality, he had somehow to reimagine the way painting could be made, to think his way out of the conventions it had thus far fostered. Like all the truly original modern artists, he had – as he put it, with less originality than urgency – 'to go beyond painting.' In September 1923 he described his efforts to his friend J. F. Ràfols: 'I know that I am following very dangerous paths, and I confess that at times I am seized with panic like that of the hiker who finds himself on paths never before explored, but this doesn't last, thanks to the discipline and seriousness with which I am working" (C. Lanchner, Joan Miró [exhibition catalogue], The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1993-94, p. 17).

La Porte (Objet) has a highly distinguished provenance taking in some of the most influential collectors and patrons of the 20th century. The first owner of the present work was the banker Claude Hersaint, who, alongside his wife Hélène Anavi, amassed one of the finest collections of contemporary art in Paris, and befriended many of the key artists of the time including, Balthus who painted both their portraits. The next owner was the American collector, artist and promoter of Surrealist art, William N. Copley. Copley's outstanding collection was partly acquired by the means of his own gallery in Los Angeles – he generally had to purchase ten percent of each exhibition in order to ensure a few sales for the artists he represented, including Magritte and Ernst. Copley moved to Paris in 1949 and continued to add to his impressive collection, most of which was dispersed after his death in 1978 and 1979 at Sotheby's in New York, where Mr. Taubman acquired the present work.