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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London

Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
PEINTURE
signed Miró (lower right)
oil on gouged cardboard
74.5 by 54.5cm.
29 3/8 by 21 1/2 in.
Painted in 1953.
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Provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris

Princess Sarabhaï, Ahmedabad, India (acquired by 1956)

Galerie Lelong, Paris (acquired from the above in 2007)

Acquired by the present owner in 2014

Exhibited

Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum & Stuttgart, Württembergische Staatsgalerie, Miró, 1954, no. 17

Baden-Baden, Museum Frieder Burda, Miró. Les couleurs de la poésie, 2010, no. 44, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Zurich, Kunsthaus & Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Joan Miró: Wall, Frieze, Mural, 2015-16, no. 47, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Sans titre and with incorrect medium)

Literature

Jacques Prévert & Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Joan Miró, Paris, 1956, illustrated p. 181

Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró, Life and Work, London, 1962, no. 820, illustrated p. 562

Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné. Paintings, Paris, 2001, vol. III, no. 955, illustrated in colour p. 223

Catalogue Note

‘Insofar as possible I’d like to get beyond easel painting, which in my opinion pursues a petty aim’, Miró declared in 1938, a decade after he famously proclaimed that he wanted to ‘assassinate painting’. For the rest of his career he produced works that embody a paradox unique to his œuvre: whilst creating art that went against traditional notions of painting, he never ceased to be a painter and to see himself primarily as a painter. Later in life Miró explained: ‘Anti-painting was a revolt against a state of mind and traditional painting techniques that were later judged morally unjustifiable. It was also an attempt to express myself through new materials’ (quoted in Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927-1937 (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008-09, p. 1).

The present composition belongs to a small group of works from 1953 in which Miró experimented with uncommon materials which he treated in an almost violent fashion, resulting in surfaces such as burned Masonite and, as in this work, gauged cardboard. Here, he starts from a thick, multi-layered cardboard which he gouges and scratches to create scuffs and indentations of various depths, whilst elsewhere building protruding masses of paint, which all combine to create a truly three-dimensional object. This attack – almost in a literal sense in the case of Peinture – on traditional painting has much in common with the practice of other avant-garde artists of the post-war era, such as the Abstract Expressionists’ gestural or action painting, as well as the Spatialism of Lucio Fontana. What Miró shared with these artists is a desire to subvert the illusionistic character of two-dimensional painting and to replace it with objects that exist in real space.

Writing about this group of works that includes the present composition, Jacques Dupin commented: ‘The use of unorthodox formats and unusual materials […] expresses resistance to conventional easel painting. In some works, the use of cardboard makes possible a fantastic tracery of scrawls and furrows amid vehement spots of color. Figuration is stimulated by the capriciousness of the material. Most often he applies casein as a thick mortar to break up the continuity of the surface’ (J. Dupin, op. cit., 1962, p. 434).

The richness of surface texture and imagery in the present work reflects Miró’s experience with a number of different techniques: the larger patches of pure pigment recall his experimentations with sculpture and ceramic, while the small element at lower centre evokes the superbly delicate painterly style of the previous decade. Another source of influence was Miró’s work on murals, and it was in this context that the present work was included in the exhibition Joan Miró: Wall, Frieze, Mural, held in 2015-16 in Zurich and Frankfurt. Writing about this work in the exhibition catalogue, Simonetta Fraquelli observed that it 'combines bold textures with a few drawn elements derived from the artist’s previous, more allusive style and also relies on the kind of aleatoric and “automatic” practices beloved of the Surrealists’ (S. Fraquelli in Joan Miró: Wall, Frieze, Mural (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 19).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London