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Joan Miró (1893-1983)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from an Important American Collection This season, Christie's will have the privilege of selling masterworks from a private American collection, ranging from Picasso to Cy Twombly. The New York Times has referred to this collection as a "rare trove of moderns." For me, it represents the essence of what I find most enjoyable about my work; namely, to be exposed to that rare blend of art and personal vision. The eye of the collector is what struck me most on that clear, sunny spring morning when I first looked at these pictures. The Midwest has often bred a culture of collectors who share friendship, interest and, indeed, true passion. These are not intended to be "trophy" collections. Rather, they grow organically, usually outside the confines of fashion, and always with commitment. Their growth is based on the relationships between collectors, artists, and the dealers who represent them. It has been an honor to witness at close hand the particular Modernist vision represented in this collection, which started over 40 years ago with works that appear as fresh and lively today as they did then. Most important is the knowledge that this collection was purchased strictly for pleasure, important art to be lived with and loved. It is a rare opportunity for today's collectors to be able to acquire these works and to contemplate the prospect of their breathing life and energy into a new generation of collections. Stephen S. Lash Chairman
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Personnage, oiseau, étoiles

Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Personnage, oiseau, étoiles
signed 'Miró' (lower left); signed again, titled and dated 'Joan Miró Personnage, oiseau, étoiles X Palma Majorque, 9-2-1942' (on the reverse)
pastel, watercolor and black chalk on paper
24¾ x 18¼ in. (63 x 46.5 cm.)
Painted in 1942
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Berggruen Gallery, Paris.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Harold Diamond, New York.
B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, September 1967.
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Fantastic Drawings, December 1967-January 1968.
St. Louis, Washington University Gallery of Art; and The University of Chicago, The David and Alfred Smart Gallery, Joan Miró: The Development of a Sign Language, March-June 1980, p. 68, no. 43 (illustrated, p. 48).
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Moon, Sun, and One Star, May 1981.
Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Miró in America, April-June 1982.
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, In the Mind's Eye: Dada and Surrealism, December 1984-January 1985, p. 201 (illustrated).
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Miró and Calder, June-September 1998.
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Lot Essay

Jacques Dupin has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Miró and his family took to the roads as refugees during the German invasion of France in June 1940, and made their way to Palma, Majorca the following month. The artist remained there with his wife's family as he tried to gauge how the fascist dictator Franco's police would respond to his return--the artist was well known for his sympathy for the defeated loyalist faction in the Spanish Civil War. While in Palma, Miró resumed his series of Constellations, which he began in Normandy in January 1940 before the Battle of France. He completed the final three works in the series, which came to number 23 in all, in July-September 1941, when he was finally able to return to Catalonia and visit his ancestral home in Montroig. The famous sequence of Constellations, done in gouache and thinned oil on paper, was a virtuosic achievement of concentrated visual composition, as well as a watershed moment in the development and presentation of the artist's imagery.

Miró executed the present work in February 1942, during a second stay in Palma, less than six months after the completion of the final Constellation. It reflected the artist's continuing interest in working with drawing and painting media on paper. In fact, Miró did not make any oil paintings on canvas between 1940 and 1944. This was the result of the supreme effort that had gone into the making of the Constellations, the stresses and hardships of the wartime period, as well as the transitory nature of his existence, during a period when the artist alternated between staying in Palma, Barcelona and Montroig. Jacques Dupin wrote:

In 1942 [the Constellations] were followed by a large number of watercolors, gouaches, pastels, and drawings, characterized by freedom of invention a marvelous effortlessness. Scrupulous asceticism gives way to humor and childlike whimsicality. In this evolution of his art, which was to end in the creation of his definitive style, renewed contact with Spain after five years of absence--with Majorca most especially--was doubtless crucial.

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. The object of all these explorations is to determine the relationship between drawing and the materials, the relationship between line and space. The artist's sole concern was life for the living pulse and movement of life. (in Miro, exh. cat., Barcelona, 1992, pp. 257-260).

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