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ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL: PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Joan Miró
PEINTURE
Estimate
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Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0004,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,020,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
15

ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL: PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Joan Miró
PEINTURE
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0004,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,020,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York

Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
PEINTURE
Signed Miró (lower right); signed Miró., titled and dated 1952 (on the reverse)
Oil on canvas
29 by 73 in.
73.7 by 186 cm
Painted in 1952.
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Provenance

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist)

Donald Rugoff, New York (acquired from the above in December 1968 until at least 1977)

Mr. & Mrs. Norman Braman, Miami (acquired on April 25, 1979 and until at least 2001)

Giraud Pissarro Segalot, New York 

Acquired from the above in 2004

Exhibited

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Miró, Recent Paintings, 1953, no. 32, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Tate Gallery & Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, Joan Miró, 1964, no. 192

Literature

Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró, Life and Work, London, 1962, no. 788, illustrated p. 560

Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné. Paintings, vol. III, Paris, 2001, no. 907, illustrated in color p. 189

Catalogue Note

Miró's luminous Peinture is a work of exceptional creative achievement. Painted at the beginning of a new era in modern art, it is one of the artist's finest canvases from his post-war production. Executed in 1952 and exhibited at Pierre Matisse's gallery in New York the following year, it captures the whimsy and flight of fancy that characterized Miró's best paintings, but the picture itself also presents a mix of poetic lyricism, radical abstraction and semiotic complexity that was groundbreaking among the avant-garde during this period and typical of his finest work (see fig. 1).   

In Miró's most successful work, his remarkable visual vocabulary strikes a perfect balance between abstraction and image-signs. There is always energy and movement in these pictures and never a sense of stasis. Moreover, each work is the result of active and ongoing improvisation that renders a precise interpretation impossible. In the early 1950s, Miró employed a wide variety of techniques and media, often enhancing the texture of his medium to obtain unusual stylistic effects. In the present work, the artist  applies a thick layer of oil to the surface of the canvas in bold strokes of black, white, green, blue and red while adding notes of other coloration in light, spritzed passages scattered throughout. This technique adds another dimension to the otherwise flat medium of oil on canvas; although the work seems to arise from the abstract realm of imagination, there is still present an adherence to the signs and forms that can be found throughout the artist's oeuvre.

When Miró painted the present composition in 1952, he had already become acquainted with the new techniques and aesthetic agenda of the Abstract Expressionists. He first saw their work in New York in 1947, and the experience, the artist would later recall, was like a "blow to the solar plexus." Several young painters, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, were crediting Miró as the inspiration behind their various abstract approaches, and American artist like Alexander Calder already owed a profound debt to the Spanish artist (see fig. 2). In the years that followed, Miró created works that responded to the enthusiasm of this new generation of American painters and the spontaneity of their art, but, as evident in the present work, retained a loyalty to his own artistic pursuits. "For me form is never something abstract," he said at the end of the 1940s, "it is always a sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something else. For me painting is never form for form's sake" (quoted in Margit Rowell, Joan Miró, Selected Writings and Interviews, Boston, 1986, p. 207).

In 1959 Robert Motherwell (see fig. 3) penned an essay for Artnews entitled “The Significance of Miró” in which he explored, among other facets of the artist’s work, Miró’s painting process: “How Miró makes a painting is interesting…. The whole process is pervaded throughout by an exquisite ‘purity,’ that is, by a concrete and sensitive love for his medium that never distorts the essential nature of the medium, but respects its every nuance of being, as one respects someone one loves…. The painting medium is essentially a rhythmically animated, colored surface-plane that is invariably expressive, mainly of feelings or their absence… The expression is mainly the result of emphasis, is constituted by what is emphasizes, and, more indirectly, by what is simply assumed or ignored…. There are not many painters as sensitive to the ground of the picture at the beginning of the painting-process as Miró—Klee, the Cubist collage, Cézanne watercolors, Rothko come to mind…. When Miró has made a beautiful, suggestive ground for himself, intentionally the picture is half-done…. Miró’s miracle is not in his brushing, but in that his surface does not end up heavy and material, like cement or tar or mayonnaise, but airy, light, clean, radiant, like the Mediterranean itself. There is art for his creatures to breath and move about him. No wonder he loves Mozart” (R. Motherwell, “The Significance of Miró” in Artnews, New York, May 1959, pp. 65-66).

After it’s debut at Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1953, Peinture would, a decade later, grace the walls of the Tate Gallery and the Zurich Kunsthaus. While the work hung at the Tate, Miró posed in front of it, smiling towards the camera and gesturing with both hands at the picture on the wall behind him. In the catalogue for this exhibition Peinture is described as follows: "Miró's desire to find a language in which signs can be independent of any precise meaning and exist by their hidden power of suggestion, can be appreciated in this painting. There is a spontaneous freedom in the flow of his sensitive line that makes the finality with which shapes find their place on the canvas all the more astonishing…. This is again the result of a combination between complete abandon and masterly control" (Joan Miró (exhibition catalogue), 1964, op. cit., p. 44).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York