JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
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JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)

Tête bleue

JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
te bleue
signed 'Miró' (lower left); signed again, dated and inscribed 'MIRÓ. 2⁄3/62 Tête bleue' (on the reverse)
oil on cardboard
29 1⁄2 x 41 1⁄4 in. (75 x 104.7 cm.)
Painted on 2 March 1962
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Acquavella Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above in 1989; sale, Christie’s, London, 24 June 2009, lot 317.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Dupin & A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Paintings, 1959-1968, Paris, 2002, no. 1018 (illustrated p. 29).
New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Cartones, 1965, no. 10.
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, Joan Miró, Equilibri a l'espai, September - November 1997, no. 10 (illustrated p. 45).
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

In 1956, Miró moved into new studios on the terraced hills above Calamayor in Majorca, the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, realized by his friend and architect Josep Lluís Sert. The years 1955-1959 saw Miró abandon painting almost entirely in favour of ceramics and printmaking, a shift that was partly due to the bewilderment of new surroundings, and indeed Miró himself admitted that it took him some time to populate and animate the studio with collected objects. A further consequence of the move was that Miró found himself surrounded by works of art from forty years of creativity. The result of this retrospection was an exploration into the unknown.

te bleue was executed in the early 1960s at a time when Miró was actively pursuing the joint influences of recent American painting and of Japanese calligraphy on his own uniquely poetic, instinctive and gestural style of painting. Following his return from America in 1959 where he attended his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Miró resumed painting and his output became once again prolific. As a direct result of his extensive practice, Miró's forms grew bolder, more open and expansive. Prompted by his reaction to the works of Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock that he had encountered in New York, Miró's brushstrokes became at once more robustly gestural and graffiti-like, with vibrant splashes of colour.

In Miró’s words, American Painting ‘showed me a direction I wanted to take but which up to then had remained at the stage of an unfulfilled desire. When I saw these paintings, I said to myself, you can do it, too: go to it, you see, it is O.K.! You must remember that I grew up in the school of Paris. That was hard to break away from’ (quoted in op. cit., 1987, p. 279). ‘It showed me the liberties we can take, and how far we could go, beyond the limits’, he explained to Margit Rowell. ‘In a sense, it freed me’ (quoted in J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1993, p. 303). Whilst his lines became more dramatic and flowing, the poetic nature and integrity of his pictorial vocabulary remained the same, as the artist condensed his subjects to ideograms, reducing complex forms to their essential linear aspects.

te bleue belongs to a series of some 54 works referred to as cartones, each executed on a rectangle of board. Contrasting with the mass-produced board, a veritable symbol of the industrialized 1960s, is Miró’s symbolic treatment of the te, or head, a motif that had long held a strong identity for the artist. The subject was central to his language of signs and the head represented something that was at once corporal and earthbound, whilst containing the capacity for imaginative transportation to other dimensions, times and perspectives, much like the flight of a bird, another of Miró’s favourite motifs.

For Miró, the very act of painting itself was a journey of discovery. The artist was fascinated with how a picture originated on the canvas, beginning with a simple mark or form, or an accidental wipe of a brushstroke. Freed entirely from description as well as from the meticulous handling that Miró had utilized in his early work, here colour and mark making become an expressive lifeforce in their own right. In the present work the artist has reduced the subject to its essence; a few economical, bold lines serve as counterpoint to the free play of splashes and spots of colours – a pure revelation of the act of painting.

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