Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Property of an Important American Collector
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

L'Envolée II

Joan Miró (1893-1983)
L'Envolée II
signed 'Miró' (lower left); signed again, dated and titled 'MIRÓ 31/7/63 L'ENVOLÉE II' (on the reverse)
oil on canvasboard
9 3/8 x 12 7/8 in. (23.9 x 32.6 cm.)
Painted on 31 July 1963
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner.
J. Dupin and A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró: Catalogue raisonné, paintings, 1959-1968, Paris, 2002, vol. IV, p. 120, no. 1149 (illustrated).
Amherst, Massachussetts, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 1993-1998 (on extended loan).
Norton, Massachusetts, Wheaton College (on loan).
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is displayed with a loaner frame for the exhibition, which is available for purchase.

Lot Essay

“Miró was synonymous with freedom—something more aerial, more liberated, lighter than anything I had seen before. In one sense he possessed absolute perfection. Miró could not put a dot on a sheet of paper without hitting square on the target. He was so truly a painter that it was enough for him to drop three spots of colour on the canvas, and it would come to life—it would be a painting” (Alberto Giacometti, quoted in P. Schneider, “Miró,” Horizon, no. 4, March 1959, pp. 70-81).
Against a vaporous white background, fine, interlocking black lines dominate the canvas of Miró’s L'Envolée II. Among these striking black markings float finely rendered stars, together with areas of bold color. Painted on 31 July 1963, the present work dates from a time of rejuvenation and experimentation in Miró’s career. After a five-year hiatus from painting, in 1959, four years before he painted the present work, Miró had made a triumphant return to this art form, embarking on a period of feverish and intense production. He painted with a new simplicity and minimalism, starting afresh as he commenced a new phase of his long and prolific career. “My desire,” he stated in 1959, “is to attain a maximum intensity with a minimum of means. That is why my painting has gradually become more spare” (quoted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 251). The present work embodies this stylistic shift, exemplifying the radiant purity that characterizes Miró’s work of the 1960s.
Floating amid a boundless white, dreamy space, the composition is in some ways reminiscent of the white, monochrome grounds in the final iteration of Miró’s “dream” paintings of the mid-1920s. In these abstract paintings, whimsical signs and ciphers hovered amidst a seemingly limitless pictorial space, and the same effect is evident in the present work. Speaking of the way his forms interact and coalesce upon the picture plane, Miró explained, “In my paintings, the forms are both immobile and mobile. They are immobile because the canvas is an immobile support. They are immobile because of the cleanness of their contours and because of the kind of framing that sometimes encloses them. But precisely because they are immobile, they suggest motion. Because there is no horizon line or any indication of depth, they shift in depth. They also move across the surface, because a colour or a line inevitably leads to a change in the angle of vision. Inside the large forms there are small forms that move around. And when you look at the painting as a whole, the large forms also become mobile. You can even say that although they keep their autonomy, they push each other around” (quoted in Rowell, op. cit., pp. 248-249).

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