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    Sale 7703

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 152

    Joan Miró (1893-1983)


    Price Realised  


    Joan Miró (1893-1983)
    oil and watercolour on Ingres paper
    approx. 19 x 25¼ in. (48.6 x 65.6 cm.)
    Executed in 1931

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    Formerly in the collection of DADA poet Tristan Tzara, Painting was executed by Miró during his summer 1931 stay at the family home in Montroig. It is one of a unique series of 32 works executed in turpentine-thinned oil paint on a high quality Ingres paper, a technique Miró experimented with after his attempted 1928-1930 'assassination' and near abandonment of painting; this 'assassination' is the subject of the present exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937.

    Miró's 1928 crisis stemmed from worries that his poetic, dream-inspired imagery was a betrayal of the DADA roots of his work, its overly planned and aestheticised nature being too subservient to the traditions of oil painting. For the 'dream paintings' of the 1920s Miró often began with realistic sketchbook images, gradually abstracting the work through a series of 'instinctive reactions' to the previous sketch, before squaring up and transferring the design directly to canvas. The 'paintings on Ingres paper' see Miró abandoning such carefully thought-out means, dispensing with preparatory studies and dream imagery to instead focus more on problems of form. Combining ideas from the 1929 collages - involving cutting and pasting pure areas of colour - with a returned interest in his controlling arabesque line - brought about both through a return to drawing and through his 'objects' created with rope and other found materials - Miró found a new means of expression at once more spontaneous and, for him, more formally satisfying than before.

    In Painting the initial layer of paint is thinned down to resemble a watercolour wash, the luminosity of the blue and green emphasised by the white ground and still-visible brushwork. Horizontal and vertical bands of pure colour are then added to set up an abstract tension, their geometric forms influenced by the previous years' experiments with cut and pasted coloured papers. Finally, the abstracted woman's body is freely drawn over the top in broad, rapid black lines, the concrete forms sharply contrasting with the seemingly free floating colours of the background. This approach therefore shows not only a more abstract and spontaneous aspect to Miró's work, but may also be seen to emphasise the strong, calligraphic aspect to Miró's handling of line.

    Comparing the black lines to wire sculpture, Jacques Dupin has described the works as 'full of laboured crudeness, inertness and opacity - obvious traps to hold in check the internal forces that they arouse, the better, the more vehemently to free them. The coloured backgrounds are dissociated and yet inseparable from the forms generated by the black graphisms. It is their interplay, their counterpoint, that gives birth to the inward impulse and unchallengeable sign of Miró's genius' (J. Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 164).

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    Tristan Tzara, Paris, by 1962.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1980, lot 342.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1961, no. 297 (illustrated p. 508).
    J. Dupin, Joan Miró, Life and Work, London, 1962, no. 297 (illustrated p. 524).
    J. Dupin & A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné. Paintings, vol. II, 1931-1941, Paris, 2000, no. 382 (illustrated p. 50).


    Paris, Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, Joan Miró, June - November 1962, no. 114.