Lot 9
  • 9

Joan Miró

10,000,000 - 15,000,000 USD
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  • Joan Miró
  • Femme, oiseau
  • signed Miró; signed Miró., titled Femme, oiseau, dated 1969 and 4/IX/74 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 85 by 68 1/2 inches
  • 216 by 174 cm
Painted circa 1969.


Galerie Maeght, Paris
Private Collection, Barcelona (acquired by 1979)
Pace Gallery, New York 
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1986)
Pace Wildenstein, New York 
Acquired by the present owner from the above on July 10, 1996


Madrid, Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, Joan Miró: pintura, 1978, no. 92
Palma de Mallorca, Sa Llotja, Miró, 1978, no. 63
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Joan Miró, Peintures, Sculptures, Dessins, Ceramiques, 1956-1979, 1979, p. 139, no. 22, illustrated (dated 1969)
Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, Joan Miró, exposición antologica: 100 obras de 1914 a 1980, 1980, no. 71
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, L’Univers d’Aimé et Marguerite Maeght, 1982, p. 143, no. 105, illustrated in color
Paris, Galerie Maeght, Joan Miró 90e Anniversaire, 1983, n.p., no. 5, illustrated in color (titled Personnage et Oiseau)
London, Waddington Galleries, Joan Miró/Henri Laurens, 1984, p. 22, no. 19, illustrated in color (dated 1974)


Pere Gimferrer, Miró, Catalan Universel, Barcelona, 1978, p. 213, no. 197, illustrated in color 
Walter Erben, Joan Miró, 1893-1983, The Man and His Work, Cologne, 1988, p. 225, n.n., illustrated in color (dated 1974)
Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Paintings, vol. V, Paris, 2003,  p. 229, no. 1632, illustrated in color 

Catalogue Note

Miró’s Femme, oiseau, painted in the last decade of his life, is a poetic example of abstraction at its most daring. Although no identifiable features of a woman or a bird are visible, the artist evokes the gestural motions of these figures through the sweeping arabesques of his brushwork. When he painted this work in 1969 and 1974, Miró was primarily concerned with reducing his pictorial language to its barest essentials. “Through this rarefaction and seeming lack of prudence,” explains his biographer Jacques Dupin, “the canvas’ pictorial energy was in fact magnified, and his painting strikingly reaffirmed. This process also seemed like a breath of fresh air, or an ecstatic present from which new signs, colors, and the full freedom of gesture surged forth. By limiting  the colors of his palette, Miró’s enduring themes yielded works of various sizes, proportions rhythms, and resonances.” (J. Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 1993, pp. 337-38)The frenetic expressiveness of the artist’s brushwork here calls to mind the works of Willem de Kooning completed around the same time. After his trip to New York in 1947, Miró became acquainted with the art of the Abstract Expressionists and was fascinated by their techniques and their aesthetic agenda. As the artist later recalled, the experience of seeing canvases of the Abstract Expressionists was like “a blow to the solar plexus.” Several young painters, including Jackson Pollock, were crediting Miró as their inspiration for their wild, paint-splattered canvases. In the years that followed he created works that responded to the enthusiasm of this younger generation of American painters and the spontaneity of their art. It was also under their influence that he started painting on a large scale, such as in the present work. The paintings he created from the early 1950s onwards are a fascinating response to these new trends of abstraction, while at the same time showing Miró’s allegiance to his own artistic pursuits.

By the time he completed the present work in 1974, Miró’s composition had gained a level of expressive freedom and exuberance that evidenced his confidence in his craft. Images of women, stars, birds and moons were omnipresent in his pictures to the point that these elements became memes for the artist’s own identity. Jacques Dupin elaborated on the semiotic importance of the figuration in these late paintings, “[t]he sign itself was no longer the image’s double, it was rather reality assimilated then spat out by the painter, a reality he had incorporated then liberated, like air or light. The importance of the theme now depended on its manner of appearing or disappearing, and the few figures Miró still endlessly named and inscribed in his works are the natural go-between and guarantor of the reality of his universe. It would perhaps be more fruitful to give an account of those figures that have disappeared than of the survivors.” (ibid. pp. 339-40)

Miró's own reflection on the artistic process further articulates his late style: "... silence is denial of a noise - but the smallest noise in the midst of silence becomes enormous. The same process makes me look for noise hidden in silence, the movement in immobility, life in inanimate things, the infinite and the finite, forms in a void, and myself in anonymity." (M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 253) Miró builds the present composition using a pictorial lexicon of signs and symbols, while still referencing recognizable objects, in this case, human figures. Working with thick lines and monochromatic spaces as his central compositional elements, Miró fully explored the possibilities of movement within a two-dimensional field.

The influence of Abstract Expressionism compelled Miró to begin painting on a large scale, requiring the construction of a massive studio in Palma by the Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert. The paintings he created from the early 1950s onwards are a fascinating response to these new trends of abstraction, while at the same time showing Miró's allegiance to his own artistic pursuits. By the late 1960s, Miró had become well-versed in the art of rendering his aesthetic ideas on a large-scale format. As was the case for most of these late works, the artist completed the picture in his studio in Palma de Mallorca, where the warm Mediterranean sunlight and invigorating sea air enlivened his desire to paint bold and exuberant oils.