Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
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Joan Miró (1893-1983)
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Property from a Private Family Collection
Joan Miró (1893-1983)


Joan Miró (1893-1983)
stamped with foundry mark 'R. HALIGON PLASTIQUES D'ART' (on the lower edge)
painted synthetic resin
Height: 74 ¾ in. (190 cm.)
Width: 59 ¾ in. (152 cm.)
Executed in 1974; unique
Galerie Maeght, Paris (acquired from the artist, 1974).
Raja Kimche, California (acquired from the above, 1980).
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the above); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 6 November 1991, lot 67.
Acquired by the family of the present owner, circa 1995.
A. Jouffroy and J. Teixidor, Miró Sculptures, Paris, 1980, p. 196 and 245, no. 264 (illustrated in color, p. 197).
N. Watkins, "Miró and the 'Siurells'" in The Burlington Magazine, February 1990, vol. 132, no. 1043, p. 93 (illustrated in color, fig. 12).
L. Coyle, W. Jeffett and J. Punyet Miró, eds., The Shape of Color: Joan Miró's Painted Sculpture, exh. cat., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2002, pp. 151 and 169, no. 24 (illustrated in color, p. 151).
E.F. Miró and P.O. Chapel, Joan Miró Sculptures: Catalogue Raisonné 1928-1982, Paris, 2006, p. 297, no. 313 (illustrated in color).
E.F. Miró and P.O. Chapel, Joan Miró Sculptures: Catalogue Raisonné 1928-1982 ( no. 313 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Miró: Sculpture of Humor and Adventure, January-February 1979, no. 67 (illustrated in color).
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Joan Miró, July-September 1979, pp. 92 and 190, no. 305 (illustrated, p. 93).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

The large sculptures that Miró created during the final two decades of his life are—by dint of their monumental scale and imposing presence—the crowning works of his career. “It is in sculpture,” the artist wrote presciently in 1941-1942, “that I will create a truly phantasmagoric world of living monsters” (M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, Boston, 1986, p. 175). The construction of a capacious new studio in Palma de Mallorca in 1956 gave him the space to realize this vision at last, as well as providing an immense window onto the world from which he increasingly drew his creative strength. “Miró had formed the desire to leave the laboratory behind,” Jacques Dupin explained. “He dreamt of the street, public squares, gardens, and cities. Just as he had always sought to transgress painting, he now sought to transgress his own work, to cross over the boundaries of walled galleries and museums” (Miró, Paris, 1993, p. 367).
The present Personnage has its inception in a project that Miró undertook in 1972 in association with the Guggenheim Museum, for a monumental sculpture to be sited in Central Park and dedicated to the children of New York. In response to this commission, the artist here created a potent yet whimsical fertility goddess, seated firmly upon the earth, with bulbous forms evoking maternal abundance. The lower half has a single breast or female sex painted in red and black; the rounded head has a single blue eye in the form of an attached sphere. A yellow appendage may be read as either an outstretched arm or a playfully upraised tail—hence, perhaps, the artist’s notation “Femme, oiseaux” on a preparatory drawing. “Forms give birth to other forms,” he explained. “They become each other and in this way create the reality of a universe of signs and symbols in which figures pass from one realm to another” (quoted in M. Rowell, ed., op. cit., 1986, p. 240).
The seated Personnage is one of two alternatives that Miró considered for the Central Park project; he also revived and further developed a standing idol with elephantine legs and a womb-like torso that he had conceived in 1971 for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Miró and Chapel, nos. 268-272). When Margit Rowell, then a curator at the Guggenheim, traveled to the Haligon foundry in January 1974 to view maquettes of both sculptures, she expressed a strong preference for the present version. “Given the openings and the hollows, as well as its reassuring silhouette—at once maternal, stable, primordial, and a little amusing—this is the ideal sculpture for a park or a public garden in New York,” she wrote Miró (quoted in L. Coyle and W. Jeffett, op. cit., 2002, p. 46).
The commission fell through soon after, though, when Miró proposed fabricating the sculpture in patinated bronze rather than more lightweight polyester resin and weather-resistant polymer paint. “I still believe,” Rowell wrote, “that Femme Oiseau in a white material with patches of color would be magnificent. The sculpture would stand out well against the landscape, it would be more cheerful, more luminous than a sculpture in bronze” (quoted in ibid., p. 47). Miró ultimately opted for synthetic resin as originally intended, but there is no mention of the completed sculpture—the present, unique work—in the correspondence about the Central Park project. In 1976, Miró contracted with Susse Fondeur to produce a bronze version of Personnage as well (Miró and Chapel, no. 312).

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