Joan Miro (1893-1983)
Joan Miro (1893-1983)

Femme assise III/V

Joan Miro (1893-1983)
Femme assise III/V
signed with initial 'M' (lower left); signed, dated and titled 'Miró 29/11/60 Femme assise III/V' (on the reverse)
oil and acrylic on canvas
39¼ x 31 5/8 in. (99.5 x 80.3 cm.)
Painted on 29 November 1960
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Galería Gueretta, Madrid.
Private collection (acquired from the above, circa 1992); sale, Christie's, New York, 2 November 2005, lot 496.
Opera Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Dupin, Miró, Life and Work, Paris, 1961, p. 553, no. 913 (illustrated).
Y. Taillandier, Creación Miró 1961, Barcelona, 1962, p. 22 (illustrated in color).
C. Simon and J. Miró, Femmes, Paris, 1965 (illustrated in color, pl. 11).
J. Dupin and A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Paintings, Paris, 2002, vol. IV, p. 100, no. 1130 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Femme assise III/V is the third in a series of five bold paintings by Joan Miró on the theme of the seated woman which date to November and December of 1960. Preparatory drawings for two of the oils in this series are dated to September 1959 and Miró later explained that all five Femme assise paintings were initially conceived simultaneously (see P. Gimferrer, The Roots of Miró, Barcelona, 1993, nos. 429 and 430). These were subsequently set aside until 1960 when, "all of a sudden, I finished them all: boom, boom, boom" (the artist quoted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró, Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1986, p. 258).

This burst of creative activity was all the more remarkable since it followed a number of years in which he had all but ceased to paint, largely spending his time making ceramics and doing engravings and lithography. In fact the latter part of 1960, especially November, was extraordinarily productive for Miró across a whole range of media and supports and witnessed his execution of stylistically diverse works on canvas, burlap, cardboard, wood and even fibro-cement. Miró had resumed his painting career with a renewed vigor and boldness following a reassessment of his life's work that had been prompted by a move to a large new studio in Palma de Mallorca in 1956. The fruits of this critical re-engagement with painting were displayed in an important solo exhibition of 1961 held in the Pierre Matisse gallery in New York, which included Femme assise III/V.

A notable feature of Miró's approach to painting at this time, and one that was to figure prominently in his future work, involved the use of thick strokes of roughly applied black paint--exemplified here in the strong graphic lines of Femme assise III/V. Photographs of the artist's studio from this period show that for Femme assise IV/V--now in the collection of the Museo Nacional, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid--Miró first applied fluid strokes of diluted paint to articulate the shape of the woman. These were later modified and then emphasized with black paint and further patches and spots of color were added. It is the distinctively curved lines in this series which led Yvon Taillandier to compare the stylized female figures to trees, as well as to the "incipient spiral" shape of the wooden rocking chairs in the artist's studio, a particularly pertinent observation given the "seated woman" title of these works (op. cit., n.p.).

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