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Joan Miro (1893-1986)
This lot has no reserve. THE COLLECTION OF RENE GAFFÉ Property from the Estate of Madame René Gaffé Dans ce siècle de spéculations, de complications, de crises, ce peintre peut paraître paradoxal. Il a crée un simple mystère sur le plan abstrait. Il sort du quotidien, pour nous ramener sans cesse à la pureté. Rien n'est compliqué dans ses toiles. Encore ne faut-il voir que ce qu'il y a mis et c'est pourquoi j'écrivais que nous nous trouvions devant une porte fermée. Mais la clé, nous la possédons tous dans une poche secrète. L'implacable paresse engourdissante devant tout ce qui a visage nouveau empêche trop souvent que nous nous en servions. Il réussit à accorder à ses personnages, à ses animaux, à ses objets un pouvoir d'inquiétude, de surprise, de surnaturel, qui nous trouble sans nous détourner de nos espoirs. Nous vivons à une époque où les tableaux vieillissent plus vite que les jolies femmes. Mais Miró est éternel. Pour le punir d'avoir eu un talent si authentique, nos petits-enfants le mettront en pénitence dans ces musées qu'il rêva parfois d'incendier. On ne dira jamais quel sacrifice pécuniaire il fit en n'écoutant que la chanson de son coeur. Sa peinture est son reflet : honnête, loyal, sensible, d'une poésie bien au-dessus des petits machins de messieurs les poètes. Pour moi, qui l'ai tout de suite aimé et qui fus, sans doute, son premier acheteur, je lui dois la joie d'avoir été traité de fou par des gens très bien. Vivre avec ses toiles, c'est rester jeune et optimiste. Je donne, pour rien, ce conseil à ceux qui voient leurs tempes se couvrir de neige. Merci, Miró, de votre constante action bienfaisante: l'apport de tant de grâce, dans les temps nigrescents qui nous minent, me crée, vis-à-vis de vous, une dette gonflée aux quatre coins de gratitude. English Translation: In this century made of speculations, complications, crises, this painter can be found to be paradoxical. He has created a simple mystery on the abstract level. He comes out of everyday life, to always bring us back to purity. Nothing is complicated in his canvases. Yet providing we only see what he included in them, which is why I wrote that we were in front of a locked pocket. But we all have access to the key in a secret pocket. The relentless numbing laziness we have in front of everything that has a new face prevents us all too often from using this key. He succeeded in giving his characters, his animals and his objects, a power of anxiety, surprise, supernatural, which unsettles us without taking away our hopes. We live in a time where paintings get old faster than beautiful women. But Miró is eternal. To punish him from having such a genuine talent, our grandchildren will confine him to those museums that he sometimes dreamt of burning. We will never say enough about the sacrifice he made by listening only to his heart's song. His paintings are his own reflection: Honest, loyal, sensible, with a poetry well above the little things of other poets. For me, who loved his work right away and was most likely his first buyer, I owe him the thrill of having been called a mad man by very respectable people. To live with canvasses, is to stay young and optimistic. I give out for free, this advice for those who see their sideburns get covered with snow. Thank you, Miró, for your continuous beneficial action: bringing so much grace, in these darkening times which are wearing us down, makes me feel towards you, an inflated debt filled everywhere with gratitude. (R. Gaffé, "Joan Miró", Cahiers d'Art, 1934, vol. 9 [nos. 1-4], pp. 30-33) THE COLLECTION OF RENÉ GAFFÉ Property from the Estate of Madame René Gaffé
Joan Miro (1893-1986)

Portrait de Mme. K.

Details
Joan Miro (1893-1986)
Portrait de Mme. K.
signed and dated 'Miró 1924' (lower left); signed and dated again and titled 'Joan Miró Portrait de Mme K 1924' (on the reverse)
charcoal, colored crayon, pastel, sanguine, white chalk and pencil on primed (blanc de Meudon) canvas
45¾ x 35 7/8 in. (116.5 x 91 cm.)
Painted in 1924
Provenance
Max Ernst, Paris.
Acquired from the above by René Gaffé, 14 August 1926.
Literature
F. Trabal, "Les Arts: Una Conversa amb Joan Miró", La Publicitat, vol. 50 (no. 16932), 14 July 1928, p. 4.
R. Gaffé, "Confessions of a Collector", Magazine of Art, vol. 44 (no. 6), October 1951, p. 211 (illustrated; with incorrect medium oil).
J. Dupin, "Miró", Quadrum, vol. I (no. 1), May 1956, p. 97.
J. Prévert and G. Ribemont-Dessaignes, Joan Miró, Paris, 1956, p. 111 (illustrated).
P. Guéguen, "L'humour féerique de Joan Miró", XXe Siècle, no. 8, January 1957, p. 40 (illustrated).
D. Chevalier, "La collection de René Gaffé dans sa maison du Haut-de-Cagnes", Aujourd'hui Art et Architecture, vol. 5 (no. 25), February 1960, p. 32.
W. Erben, Joan Miró, Munich, 1959, pp. 112, 115-116, 123 and 125 (illustrated, pl. 48).
J. Dupin, Joan Miró, Paris, 1961, pp. 144-147 and 152, no. 86 (illustrated, p. 508).
R. Gaffé, A la verticale: Réflexions d'un collectionneur, Brussels, 1963, p. 151 (illustrated).
S. Gasch, Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1963, p. 39.
J. Lassaigne, Miró, Lausanne, 1963, p. 38.
Y. Bonnefoy, Miró, Milan, 1964, p. 18.
M. Gasser, Joan Miró, New York, 1965, p. 87 (illustrated, pl. 38).
B. Dorival, "Musée National d'Art Moderne: Les préemptions de l'Etat à la seconde vente André Lefevre", La revue du Louvre, vol. 16 (no. 2), 1966, p. 119, fig. 12 (illustrated).
L. Aragon, "Barcelone à l'aube", Les lettres françaises, 11 June 1969, p. 2.
R. Penrose, Miró, New York, 1969, pp. 39-41 (illustrated, p. 40, pl. 23).
J. Perucho, Joan Miró y Cataluña, Barcelona, 1969, p. 78, no. 47 (illustrated in color).
R. Krauss, "Magnetic Fields: The Structure", in Joan Miró: Magnetic Fields, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1972, pp. 19 and 106.
W. Rubin, Miró in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1973, pp. 27, 34 and 113, no. 28 (illustrated, p. 115, fig. 18). G. Picon, Miró. Carnets catalans, Geneva, 1976, vol. I, 1976, p. 91 (illustrated, p. 90).
A. Cirici, Miró-Mirall, Barcelona, 1977, p. 49, no. 36 (illustrated in color).
J. Miró, "Ceci est la couleur de mes rêves": Entretiens avec Georges Raillard, Paris, 1977, p. 88.
E.A. Carmean, The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980, pp. 36-38 and 39.
W. Schmalenbach, Joan Miró: Zeichnungen aus den Späten Jahren, Berlin, 1982, p. 33 (illustrated).
R.M. Malet, Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1983, p. 11, fig. 27 (illustrated in color).
M. Rolnik, Miró's Constellations: The Facsimile Edition of 1959, Purchase, New York, 1983, p. 3 (illustrated).
G. Weelen, Miró, Paris, 1984, p. 62, no. 68.
M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, Boston, 1986, p. 95.
A. Jouffroy, Miró, Paris, 1987, p. 38 (illustrated in color).
C. Green, Cubism and its Enemies, New Haven, 1987, pp. 102, 258, 267, 275-276, 278 and 284 (illustrated, p. 277, fig. 290).
W. Erben, Joan Miró, Cologne, 1988, p. 178 (illustrated).
R.M. Malet, Obra de Joan Miró: Dibuixas, pintura, escultura, ceramica, textils, Barcelona, 1988, no. 233 (preparatory drawing illustrated).
V. Combalía, ed., El Descubrimiento de Miró: Miró y sus críticos, 1918-1929, Barcelona, 1990, pp. 93-94.
R. Penrose, Joan Miró, Paris, 1990, p. 40, no. 23.
A. Umland, "Joan Miró's Collage of Summer 1929: 'La peinture au défi?'", Studies in Modern Art 2: Essays on Assemblage, New York, 1992, p. 69.
J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1993, pp. 102-103, fig. 104 (illustrated, p. 102).
P. Gimferrer, Les arrels de Miró, Barcelona, 1993, p. 77, fig. 126 (illustrated in color).
C. Lanchner, Joan Miró, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1993-1994, p. 375, no. 30 (illustrated in color, p. 117; with incorrect medium oil and charcoal; with incorrect dimensions 115 x 89 cm.; dated Paris, spring 1924 ).
J. Punyet Miró and G. Lolivier, Miró. Le peintre aux étoiles, Paris, 1993, p. 40 (illustrated in color).
V. Combalía, Picasso-Miró. Miradas cruzadas, Madrid, 1998, p. 19, fig. 6 (illustrated).
J. Dupin and A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró catalogue raisonné. Paintings, Paris, 1999, vol. 1 (1908-1930), p. 86, no. 93 (illustrated in color, p. 87; with incorrect medium oil and charcoal; with incorrect dimensions 116 x 89 cm.).
Exhibited
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts and Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Joan Miró, January-March 1956, no. 10 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions 115 x 89 cm.; attributed to Collection René Gaffé).
London, Tate Gallery and Zurich, Kunsthaus, Joan Miró, August-December 1964, p. 22, no. 36 (illustrated, pl. 7a; with incorrect medium oil and charcoal; with incorrect dimensions 115 x 89 cm.).
Special notice

This lot has no reserve.

Lot Essay

Miró made his first trip from Barcelona to Paris in early March 1920 and stayed until the end of June. He met Picasso, visited the Louvre, admired the work of the Impressionists, and tried to work in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, but the experience of the city was overwhelming, and he returned to Barcelona not having done a single painting or even a sketch. Nevertheless, having followed the Dada movement from periodicals in Barcelona, Miró realized that Paris was the place to be.

Miró returned to Paris the following spring, this time for a lengthy stay. His friend the sculptor Pablo Gargallo lent him use of a studio at 45 rue Blomet. André Masson worked next door. He met the poets Michel Leiris, Antonin Artaud, Robert Desnos and Jacques Prévert. Miró saw works by Paul Klee at the Vavin-Raspail gallery. Miró's first one-man show in Paris opened at the end of April at the Galerie La Licorne. It proved to be a complete failure, but this did not deter the artist during the summer of 1921 from commencing work on his most important painting to date, La Ferme (fig. 1), which he completed sometime around early May 1922.

The barnyard animals, equipment and buildings from Miró's family farm in Montroig (near Barcelona) are rendered in La Ferme with a cleanly polished objective realism. The accumulation of detail is so striking that the picture transcends the sum of its many parts to a level of 'magic' realism. The influence of Cubism is relatively slight, serving more of an organizational than perceptual function, and is evident in the geometrical structure that underlies the composition.

La Ferme displays a synthesis of Miró's work up to this point, and is an intensely experienced reflection on growing up in Montroig. But it became clear to the artist that the future of his work was not in Cubism, or in realism. "It is certain that the 'climate' at 45 rue Blomet, with reliable friends around who were also engaged in original experiments no less intense or exacting than his own, greatly helped Miró surmount the obstacles to his true development. Miró had carried realistic painting to its furthest extreme. The crisis of expression he was undergoing, which had brought his development to a standstill, left him one last chance if he was not to give up painting altogether: he could try to revolutionize the very foundation of his art" (ibid., p. 95).

La Terre labourée, painted in Montroig from July 1923 to the early months of 1924 (fig. 2), shows the artist again recreating his family farm, but on this occasion the realistic, objective space of La Ferme yields to a more subjective treatment, and the objects become heavily stylized forms. Miró wrote to his friend Josep Réfols, "I have already managed to break absolutely free from nature and the landscapes have nothing to do with outer reality. I know that I am following very dangerous paths, and I confess that at times I am seized with a panic like that of the hiker who finds himself on paths never before explored, but this doesn't last, thanks to the discipline and seriousness with which I am working and, a moment later, confidence and optimism push me onward once again" (quoted in ibid., p. 96).

Miró also began Le Chasseur (Paysage catalan; fig. 3) in Montroig in July 1923 and finished it around the same time as La Terre labourée. The artist's imagery is here even more fantastic. Specific description of objects has now given way to the generalities of metaphor; attributes become emblematic of the subject. The hunter is reduced to a stick figure, but the viewer will quickly spot his beret, moustache, beard, pipe and beating heart; the black funnel-shaped object is his gun. However, other creatures of a kind that were strongly stylized but immediately recognizable in La Ferme and La Terre labourée are more difficult to decipher here. The elongated form across the bottom is a sardine, the hunter's lunch. The artist has also achieved liberation from conventional space. There is still a sense of receding distance in La Terre labourée, while in Le Chasseur the hilly horizon is more a symbol of the landscape in flux than a representation of actual space, and the artist's characters and objects float weightlessly on the flat picture plane.

The disintegration of the subject into emblematic components spread across a grid-like space is plainly evident in Portrait de Mme K., the present work. Moreover, the sexuality of Miró's subject is blatantly overt, placing this painting in a long line of frightening twentieth century female portraits, from Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon to de Kooning's glaring women. Miró, having spent the early months of 1924 in Montroig, returned to Paris and worked on the Portrait de Mme K., along with three other monochrome paintings, including Danseuse espagnole (see lot 116), around March to June 1924. In each of these works the artist combined painting and drawing techniques, and, in order to heighten the sharpness and immediacy of his fetishistic forms, curtailed the application of strong color.

In Portrait de Mme K. Miró dissects his subject with the clinical coolness of a mad, sadistic surgeon, and pins the various body parts and organs to the background grid as if he were mounting specimens for display. The subject's head is a de-personalized silhouette shaped like a wig-stand; strands of hair radiate outward like the snakes on a Gorgon's head, and an immensely long cigarette holder protrudes from her lips. Her beating heart, similar to that seen in the figure of the hunter, pumps flames of blood. Her breasts appear as if severed from her torso, which is depicted as a simple linear armature. The deltoid shapes, wavy, flame-like pubic hair and tubular elements also declare her aggressive sexuality and fertility. In La Famille (fig. 4), a large drawing which Miró executed on 16 May 1924 while working Portrait de Mme K., the figure's labia are almost as large as her head.

"The extraordinary Portrait of Mademoiselle K. [sic] ceases to be an automaton or a toy [Danseuse espagnole], it is rather a veritable metaphysical and poetic description of woman. Here, the geometricism of the forms has the function of rigorously ritualistic magic; it organizes them and controls the intensely vital arabesques that express the symbolic attributes of woman. The obsessive images of set square and triangle, the bird-stem, the heart of flames and roots, seem to incarnate the successive steps of some ritual initiation. The sky delegates a butterfly, the earth the stem of a plant, and hell a snake, in this occult celebration of the mystery of woman" (J. Dupin, op. cit., pp. 101 and 103).

Please note this painting has been requested for the following upcoming exhibitions: Joan Miró: 1918-1945 to be held at the Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, July-September 2002 and the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, October-December 2002; Joan Miró: Snail Woman Flower Star to be held at the Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, July-October 2002; and Rétrospective Joan Miró to be held at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, 2004.


Bill of sale to René Gaffé from Max Ernst for the present work, dated 14 August 1926.

Preparatory drawing for Portrait de Mme K.
Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.
ADAGP, Succession Joan Miró, 2001

(fig. 1) Joan Miró, La Ferme, circa 1921-1922.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
ADAGP, Succession Joan Miró, 2001

(fig. 2) Joan Miró, La Terre labourée, 1924.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (formerly in the collection of René Gaffé).
ADAGP, Succession Joan Miró, 2001

(fig. 3) Joan Miró, Le Chasseur, Paysan catalan, 1923-1924.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
ADAGP, Succession Joan Miró, 2001

(fig. 4) Joan Miró, La Famille, 1924.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
ADAGP, Succession Joan Miró, 2001
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