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Details & Cataloguing

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Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
FORMES
signed Miró (centre right); signed Joan Miró, titled and dated 29/7/35 on original card backing on the reverse
gouache and brush and ink on paper
37 by 30.5cm., 14 1/2 by 12in.
Executed on 29th July 1935.
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Provenance

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Galerie Nichido, Paris
Galerie Motte, Geneva
Private Collection, Küsnacht
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1980

Literature

Clement Greenberg, Joan Miró, New York, 1948, p. 9
Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Drawings, 1901-1937, Paris, 2008, vol. I, no. 493, illustrated p. 238

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1935, in a climate of mounting political hostility shortly before the artist was forced to leave Barcelona, Formes captures the key essence of much of Joan Miró's output from this period.  In 1934 the artist completed a series of airy compositions in which supple linear figures drafted in Indian ink float above faint clouds of pastel shades.  Formes shows a moment of transition from this mood of light hearted exploration to Miró's ‘Sauvage’ period.  Miró's black ink thickens, the ground colours darken and the familiar lexicon of shapes and symbols become heavier and imbued with a greater presence.  Figures dissolve into total abstraction in this example of Miró’s artistic response to the disintegration of Catalan society as it descended into chaos and civil war.  As Jacques Dupin has rightly noted, ‘It is as though the Spanish tragedy and the Second World War as well... broke out first in the works of this Catalan artist’ (Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró: Life and Work, London, 1962, p. 264). Yet Miró in fact often intended the works of this period to be expressions of hope and affirmations of life in the face of political horror. Evocatively, the present work captures the turbulence and tension of Miró's environment, yet still resonates with the playful optimism of the artist’s draftsmanship.

By the time he executed Formes, Miró was enjoying relative acclaim for the unmatched originality and communicative eloquence of his paintings from the early 1930s. Herbert Read, an English poet and art critic, wrote of Miró in 1934: 'Everyone must grant Miró the sensibility of a supreme artist; there are paintings of his which leave this sensibility so naked and obvious, that only the aesthetically blind can refuse to respond - pictures in which a single sensitive line explores a field of pure colour, tracing, as it were, the graph of the artist's acutest point of sensibility, registering the seismographic disturbances of a mind exposed to the assaults of the senses' (Herbert Read in Christian Zervos (ed.), Cahiers d'Art, 9, nos. 1-4, 1934, p. 52).   

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