- Joan Miró
- Signed Miró and dated 1927 (lower right); signed Joan Miró. and dated 1927. (on the reverse)
- Oil on canvas
Léon & Pierre Hardy, Paris
Galería Theo, Madrid
Jacques Hachuel, Burgos (acquired from the above and sold: Christian de Quay, Paris, October 21, 1993, lot 47)
Private Collection, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired from the above
Barcelona, Fondació Joan Miró, Joan Miró: anys 20. Mutació de la realitat, 1983, no. 93, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Burgos, Palacio del Cordon, Arte Espagnol en la coleccion Hojas de Hierba, 1989, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue
New York, The Spanish Institute, Modern Masterpieces from the Collection of Jacques Hachuel, 1990-91, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno & Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Sala de exposiciones "La Granja" y Colegio Oficial de Arquiteetos de Canarias, Gaceta de Arte y su época, 1932-1936, 1997, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue
Rome, Museo del Corso, Max Ernst e i suoi amici surrealisti, 2002, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue
Madrid, Galería Guillermo de Osma; Barcelona, Oriol Galería d'Art & Paris, Galerie Thessa Herold, Picasso Miró: Pintura y obra sobre papel, 2004-05, no. 20, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Saint-Louis, Espace d'Art Contemporain Fernet-Branca, Chassé-croisé Dada-Surréaliste 1916-1969, 2012, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue
Pere Gimferrer, The Roots of Miró, Barcelona, 1993, illustrated p. 352
Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné: Paintings, Paris, 1999, vol. I, no. 277, illustrated in color p. 208
Peinture is from a series of supremely abstracted works Miró painted at the height of his involvement with the Surrealists. Miró joined the Surrealist group in 1924 and participated in their first exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in 1925. The present work, painted in 1927, was executed when Miró was living in Montmartre and working alongside Max Ernst, René Magritte, Jean Arp and the poet Paul Éluard. The credo of these painters, which André Breton first expressed in his Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, was rooted in a belief “in the future resolution of the two states seemingly so contradictory, which are dream and reality, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality” (A. Breton, Manifestos of Surrealism, Ann Arbor, 1972). This new ideology encouraged Miró to eliminate representation from his canvases, and, as he would later declare: “The discovery of Surrealism coincided for me with a crisis in my own painting and the decisive turning that … caused me to abandon realism for the imaginary. I spent a great deal of time with poets, because I thought you had to go beyond the plastic thing to reach poetry. Surrealism freed the unconscious, exalted desire, endowed art with additional powers… I painted as if in a dream, with the most total freedom" (quoted in Joan Miró (exhibition catalogue), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1993, pp. 180 & 194).
Unlike Dalí and Magritte's figurative version of Surrealism, Miró's artistic development took a different turn. Over the course of the 1910s and early 1920s, Miró struggled to create an individual pictorial idiom, free from dependence of over signifiers. What he ingeniously developed was a distinctly original language comprised of freely invented gossamer figures that border the realms of figuration and abstraction. This visual vocabulary of “image-signs” bear no resemblance to the natural world, and their function is more akin to that of words or music than to a literal representation of nature; originating from the world of dreams and the unconscious, their other-worldly character emphasized by the void of the background that the images populate. As Jacques Dupin commented, they are “devoid of all materiality, all corporeal density. Because of their spectral appearance, they seem to be figures of yet unborn, still not given life. They ignore the laws of gravitation; they hover in the clouds or glide through liquid or viscous matter. They are the very substance of dreams and hallucinations" (ibid., p. 164).
In the present work, as in his most accomplished paintings of this period, Miró uses whimsical and ambiguous forms that first appear abstract, only to gradually take form in shifting and delightful ways. In its powerful simplicity, Peinture reveals a mastery of the void, exploring a very new sense of space. Deceptively childlike in execution, the composition exhibits a sophisticated ambiguity in elements with multiple readings. It is composed of a highly saturated winged figure at far right, the solidity of which contrasts with the thin hash marks floating above left and the central green-headed creature set against the teal-grey surface. Works such as the present compelled André Breton to comment that Miró “may be looked upon as the most Surrealist among us” (A. Breton, Le Surréalisme et la peinture quoted in J. Dupin, Joan Miró: Life and Work, London, 1962, p. 156).
Isabella Monod-Fontaine wrote of Miró’s 1927 works: “Gone are the monochrome spaces left almost untouched, the floating, washed-out pigments; now the colors cover over, they are saturated, violent, almost shrill, working together (or clashing) along the horizon that gives shape to each of these strange, fascinating compositions. Each split ground establishes a different climate of color, apparently supporting the various scenes that are played out of their unusual stages. These colored grounds play exactly the same kind of role as the animal characters. They act and declaim, shout or whisper in the background” (I. Monod-Fontaine, Joan Miró, 1917-1934, La Naissance du Monde (exhibition catalogue), Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2004, p. 73).