Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Tête de femme

Details
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Tête de femme
signed, dated and titled 'Joan Miró "Tête de femme" 7.31' (on the reverse)
gouache, India ink and pastel on Ingres paper
24¼ x 18¼ in. (61.5 x 46.5 cm.)
Executed in July 1931
Provenance
Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner in the 1950s, and thence by descent.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

ADOM (Association pour la Défense de l'Oeuvre de Joan Miró) has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Miró executed an autonomous group of powerfully instinctive paintings on Ingres paper where grid-like armatures of angular black lines were offset by gestural strokes, patches and swathes of vibrant primary colour. Tête de femme belongs to this unique series in which Miró pushed towards the very limits of representation, arriving somewhere near the boundaries of abstraction. Miró had always asserted the primacy of the representational foundations of his work and derided the rhetoric of the Abstraction-Création group formed by Theo van Doesburg and others in 1931. He was, though, acutely aware of the exceptional nature of this deeply exploratory group of paintings on Ingres paper--created, perhaps, in response to these latter artists--and later remarked that 'because the subjects of the paintings weren't clear enough, I would always give them realistic titles that came to mind while I was working on the canvas and its composition led me to depict a man or woman' (Miró, quoted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writing and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 291). For the pre-eminent scholar of Miró's work, Jacques Dupin, here he 'was, for the last time, attacking the human figure', putting it 'under the guns of a new and relentless concern for plastic values' (J. Dupin, Miró , New York, 1993, p. 165).

The new manner of painting exemplified in Tête de femme was borne of Miró's then-professed preoccupation with 'assassinating painting'. During the years 1929-1930 Miró profoundly interrogated his activity as a painter, vehemently expressing in contemporary interviews the anger and contempt he felt for what he saw as its traditional and restricting conventions. As a consequence, he began to create collages and assemblages made from unorthodox materials that he often found lying around his farm at Montroig. His 'murder of painting' was also, however, conducted from within, and in 1931 he announced that he would continue to use traditional artists' tools 'in order to get the best effects', perhaps as a further subversion of artistic convention (Miró, quoted in Rowell, op. cit., p. 116). Ultimately, this led him to produce Tête de femme and the other works in the instinctually-guided group of paintings on Ingres paper which were wholly--and crucially--executed without the use of preliminary sketches. 'I took the sheet of paper, wet my brush and unconsciously drew a motif in black', Miró explained. 'I did exactly what Matisse said to do and more profoundly than the Surrealists did: I let myself be guided by my hand' (Miró, quoted in ibid., p. 291).

This entirely spontaneous approach to painting is perfectly illustrated in Tête de femme where the sweeping strokes of paint fill the sheet of paper, following its axes. This work possesses an almost collage-like quality in the textural and formal oppositions between the black spindly lines--reminiscent of Pablo Picasso's studio pictures from 1927-1928 and his and Julio González's wire sculptures of the following years--and the descriptively autonomous areas of colour. These were introduced, Miró claimed, to create a greater sense of atmosphere and, it might also be added, an enigmatic sensation of depth. More than that, perhaps, they illustrate his eschewal of the rigidly geometrical paintings of the Abstraction-Créationistes and his concern with imbuing this series of paintings with a greater sense of humanity.

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