Lot 19
  • 19

Joan Miró

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joan Miró
  • Oiseau
  • Inscribed Miró, with the foundry mark FONDERIA BONVICINI VERONA ITALY and numbered 3/6


  • Bronze
  • Height: 82 3/4 in.
  • 210 cm


Galerie Maeght-Lelong, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Galerie Maeght, New York

Acquired from the above in 1981


Daniel Lelong, Joan Miró, Sculptures, Catalogue raisonné, 1928-1982, no. 391, another cast illustrated in color p. 360

Catalogue Note

Miró's dynamic Oiseau exemplifies the artist’s inventive approach to one of his most celebrated subjects.  Miró conceived the form for this sculpture in 1968, when his compositions challenged the boundaries of representation and abstraction. Confronting the fantastical and inexplicable three-dimensional forms Miró created, his biographer, Jacques Dupin, has written, “Miró was the drunken sculptor who staggered but did not fall, who pursued his tight-rope dance among malicious spirits taking form, and answering to his step.  It was just a game, but a game in which all the danger lay – in this similar to the delirium of sleep, where minuscule creatures take on gigantic dimensions… And the only way we may face them is to submit them to our own personal whims or to submit to theirs: this is the rule of reciprocity of these works.  Each partner is vulnerable, each awaiting that the other affirm his existence” (J. Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 382).

Jacques Dupin explained Miró's approach to creating monumental sculptures such as the present work: "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." (Dupin, ibid., p. 374).

The quality of the present bronze is further enhanced by its extraordinary patina and surface texture.  Miró worked with several foundries throughout the course of his career, including the Bonvicini Foundry in Verona which cast the edition to which this bronze belongs. Discussing Miró’s focus on the finish of his bronzes, William Jeffett notes: "Miró chose a patina which preserved the rough and varied 'fire skin', or the unfinished surface of the bronze metal as it appears when emerging from the mold.  This technique produced a variegated surface pattern, green in colour, which imitated the accidental variations in surface resulting from the high temperatures reached in casting.  This was a calculated effect, however, requiring as much effort on the part of the foundry artisans as more classically inspired surfaces" (William Jeffett, A Note on the techniques of Bronze Casting, Joan Miró Sculpture, South Bank Center Touring Exhibition, 1989-90, p. 19).

Oiseau was originally made by Miró as a unique sculpture in 1968 for the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  In 1981, the artist enlarged the form, which was then cast in bronze in a numbered edition of 6, plus one artist’s proof.   Other casts from this edition belong to The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (number 5/6) and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for visual Arts at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California (number 1/6).