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Details & Cataloguing

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Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
PAINTING
signed Miró and dated 3.31 (lower centre); signed Joan Miró. and dated 3.31 on the reverse
oil and collage on metal
18.2 by 20cm., 7 1/8 by 7 7/8 in.
Executed in March 1931.
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Provenance

Georges Hugnet, Paris
Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above; sale: Sotheby's, Paris, 8th December 2011, lot 24)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Literature

Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Paintings, Paris, 2000, vol. II: 1931-1941, no. 344, illustrated p. 28

Catalogue Note

By 1931, Joan Miró was fully committed to the Surrealist project. After his initial move to Paris in 1922, the artist established close contact with André Breton, André Masson, Max Ernst, Jean Arp and Paul Éluard. Following his first one-man show in the United States in 1930, the artist’s overtly experimental style secured his international reputation; his revolutionary collages of 1929 and anti-painting objets of 1930 were followed by artworks dedicated to innovative technique, an economy of pictorial means and the use of non-artistic materials. As Miró famously told Francisco Melgar, during the journalist’s visit to his Paris studio in January 1931: ‘I intend to destroy, destroy everything that exists in painting’ (quoted in Miró and the Object (exhibition catalogue), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 2015, p. 24).

Painting bears an enigmatic relation to reality and, with its radical use of collage and metal support, exemplifies Miró’s aim to challenge traditional painting. Biomorphic forms oscillate between figuration and abstraction in a kinaesthetic composition that embodies the artist’s conviction that: ‘The painting must be fertile. It has to give birth to a world. It doesn’t matter if you see flowers in it, figures, horses, as long as it reveals a world, something living’ (quoted in Joan Miró, 1893-1993 (exhibition catalogue), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 426). A rhythmic play of organic shapes and vibrant primary colours are juxtaposed against subtle grey, inviting the viewer to engage with the artwork as both dynamic representation and material object.

Georges Hugnet, designer and critic, acquired the present work directly from the artist himself. Hugnet, who, like Miró, was a friend to Pablo Picasso, became affiliated with the Surrealist circle in 1926 and officially joined the group the year after Painting (March 1931) was produced. In 1933, Hugnet published Enfances, the first book to be illustrated with etchings by Miró.

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