Executed at a time when Miró was rapidly gaining international acclaim, Femmes, oiseau, étoiles exemplifies the expressive power of the artist’s pictorial lexicon. Employing a calligraphic language developed throughout his career, Miró strikes the balance between abstraction and symbolism. Through his exquisite use of line, Miró borrows from the symbolic vocabulary of his celebrated Constellations series by imagining and subsequently reimagining the figures of the woman, bird and stars in an infinite variety of combinations and technical experimentations.
Writing of Miró’s production in 1942 and 1943, which consisted almost exclusively of works on paper, Jacques Dupin notes: “They are explorations undertaken with no preconceived idea—effervescent creations in which the artist perfected a vast repertory of forms, signs, and formulas, bringing into play all the materials and instruments compatible with paper. These works permit us to follow the alchemist at work, for errors and oversights are found side by side with the most unexpected triumphs and happy spontaneous discoveries. The object of all these explorations is to determine the relationship between drawing and the materials, the relationship between line and space. The artist is not so much interested in expressing something with appropriate technique, as in making the material express itself in its own way. Successively, on the same sheet, black pencil and India ink, watercolour and pastel, gouache and thinned oil paint, coloured crayons...are employed, and their contrasts and similarities exploited to the full, and not infrequently exploited beyond their capacities” (Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró, Life and Work, London, 1962, p. 372).
While the Spanish Civil War exiled Miró to France, World War II forced him to reconnect with his Spanish roots. Finding himself in Palma de Mallorca, where the present work was executed, Miró forged a style in the early 1940s which would define his paintings and drawings of later years. In the present work, Miró washes the sheet with same earthy tone used in his seminal work La Ferme (see fig. 1). In the process, he revisits his Catalonian heritage, contrasting fluid forms and phosphorescent colors with pure black and definitive lines that melodically transfigure the sheet.
Celebrating a lyricism and freedom of expression, Femmes, oiseau, étoiles is an energetic composition that typifies the artist’s oeuvre. Using his repertoire of signs and formulas, Miró tested the bounds of his composition by liberating his materials, allowing them to take on a life of their own, to speak for themselves and to coalesce into masterful and lively compositions.