Joan Miró (1893-1983)
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Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Le vent

Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Le vent
signed and dated 'Miró 11.11.24' (lower right)
silver foil collage, watercolour and charcoal on paper
24 1/8 x 18 5/8 in. (61 x 47.3 cm.)
Executed in November 1924
(Probably) Louis Aragon, Paris.
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Acquavella Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1983.
J. Miró & G. Picon, Joan Miró, Carnets catalans, dessins et textes inédits, vol. I, Geneva, 1976, p. 98 (illustrated p. 99).
G. Picon, Joan Miró, Catalan Notebooks, New York and Geneva, 1977 (illustrated p. 87).
L. Aragon, Ecrits sur l'art moderne, Paris, 1981 (illustrated p. 31).
G. Raillard, Miró, Paris, 1989, p. 66.
A. Umland, Joan Miró and Collage in the 1920s, The Dialectic of Painting and Anti-Painting, New York, 1997, no. 4, pp. 163-169 and 535-536 (illustrated fig. 26).
New York, Acquavella Galleries, XIX & XX Century Master Paintings, May - June 1983, no. 14 (illustrated p. 31).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Joan Miró, November - February 1987, no. 32 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, February - April 1987.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Joan Miró, October 1993 - January 1994 (illustrated pp. 127 and 434).
Paris, Centre Pompidou, La naissance du monde, March - June 2004, no. 70 (illustrated p. 131).
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Lot Essay

'Miró's stormy adherence in 1924 marks an important date in the development of Surrealist art,' André Breton wrote about the extraordinary breakthrough Miró made towards a new kind of painting between the summer and autumn of 1924. 'At one leap' Breton observed, Miró 'jumped over the last obstacles still barring the way to total spontaneity of expression (and) from that moment on his production testifies to an innocence and a freedom which have not been surpassed. It may be argued that his influence on Picasso, who joined Surrealism two years later, was largely determining' (André Breton, Surrealism and Painting New York, 1945, p. 85).

Miró for his part, referring to the same works, recognised the debt that these works owed to the unique methods of the group of 'Surrealist' writers such as Breton, Phillippe Soupault and Louis Aragon (appropriately the first owner of La vent) with whom he had recently come into contact. Writing to Michel Leiris from Montroig in the summer of 1924 Miró explained how he was deliberately attempting to 'free' himself of the 'poison' of 'all pictorial conventions' and to express 'with precision' all the 'golden sparks the soul gives off' in a series of works so radical that he was reluctant to call them 'paintings'. 'I am working furiously' Miró wrote, 'you and all my other writer friends have given me much help and improved my understanding of many things. I think about our conversation when you told me how you started with a word and watched to see where it would take you...Using an artificial thing as a point of departure like this, I feel parallel to what writers can obtain by starting with an arbitrary sound; the R.R. from the song of a cricket for example, or the isolated sound of a consonant or vowel' (Joan Miró, 'letter to Michel Leiris' 10 August 1924, (ed.) Margit Rowell, Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews London. 1987, p. 86).

La vent (The Wind) is one of an exquisite series of lyrical graphic pictures made on Ingres paper that Miró made at this time using a collation of seemingly random elements reduced to the cypher-like consonants of a new pictorial shorthand. This breakdown of pictorial form, inspired by the work of Paul Klee and first arrived at in his painting The Farm, is assembled here, into a poetic vision of the world that, as he observed, was actually more like Montroig, than if copied from nature.

In La vent, a wind seems to be blowing these disparate elements apart. The letter 'A' (perhaps inspired by a watermark within the Ingres paperlike so many other letters in these works, perhaps a reference to Aragon himself), a moustache and an umbrella float above the figure of a top-hatted man and a severed hand, amidst insects flying up towards a sickle moon affixed in silver paper. This collaged element marks a development that Miró would soon pursue with increased vigour. It is an element that adds a new material language of realism to his work at the same time as it destroys the classical conventions of illusory picture-making from Miró was so keen to free himself.

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