Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more MASTERWORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANTONI TÀPIESChristie’s is honoured to present a selection of Twentieth Century Masterworks from the personal collection of Antoni Tàpies. Offered across a series of auctions throughout 2017 and 2018, these exceptional works offer a unique insight into the powerful bond that existed between this revolutionary artist and the paintings, sculptures and artefacts he encountered over the course of his lifetime. Highly intimate objects, gathered together over the course of his meandering collecting journey, these objects were closely connected to Tàpies’s own artistic practice and reflect the seminal relationships, friendships and concepts that inspired him throughout his artistic career. Each work in the collection stands as a testament to the critical, perceptive and engaged way of looking that Tàpies was renowned for, and the passion he had for the works of his artistic and cultural forebears. Gathering together artworks and objects apparently epochs and cultures apart, Tàpies collected passionately, but in a unique and idiosyncratic manner. An avid reader of ancient and Eastern philosophy, he held a deep fascination for the concept of ‘authentic reality’, a state of awakening which could be triggered by contact with a piece of art. As his son, Toni has explained: ‘For Tàpies, an artwork had to be like a talisman. A talisman capable of transmitting wisdom, thought and answers to the deepest doubts and concerns that may face a human being’ (T. Tàpies, ‘A Personal View’, in Tàpies: Lo Sguardo Dell’Artista, exh. cat., Venice, 2013, p. 27). It was this energy, the unique spirit of an artwork, that Tàpies sought in all he collected. It was a power which obsessed him, which he attempted to absorb, to digest and nurture, to combine with his own artistic vision, and finally, to translate into the gestures, strokes and marks he put down on his canvases. Each of these carefully selected works of art, chosen for their visual and spiritual presence, provided Tàpies with a personal library of visual stimuli, which acted as a catalyst for his own creative impulses and shaped and influenced his art throughout his career. The importance of these artworks in Tàpies’s everyday experience is evident – these are the images and shapes which captured his imagination, comforted him, inspired him and obsessed him on a daily basis. Each of these artworks provided essential nourishment for Tàpies’s creativity, opening a path for his artistic evolution and pushing his work to new levels of dynamic expression.
Joan Miró (1893-1983)


Joan Miró (1893-1983)
signed and dated 'Miró. 1926.' (lower right); signed and dated 'Joan Miró. 1926.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
15 x 18 3/8 in. (38.1 x 46.6 cm.)
Painted in 1926
Perls Galleries, New York.
Alexander and Louisa Calder, Roxbury.
Galerie Maeght, Paris (no. 16776).
Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, and thence by descent to the present owner.
A. Tàpies, El arte y sus lugares, Madrid, 1999, p. 216 (illustrated).
J. Dupin & A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Paintings, vol. I, 1908-1930, Paris, 1999, no. 197, p. 155 (illustrated).
M. Dávila, ed., exh. cat., Tàpies: In perspective, Barcelona, 2004, p. 148 (illustrated).
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, Joan Miró: anys 20, Mutació de la realitat, May - June 1983, no. 86, n.p. (illustrated p. 63).
Venice, Palazzo Fortuny, Tàpies. Lo sguardo dell'artista, June - November 2013, p. 62 (illustrated).
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.

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Lot Essay

'Against a universe created and controlled by God, Miró offered us the continuous, changing, and infinite flux of nature. Against immutable laws, he offered us the spontaneous rhythm and ebb-and-flow of the waves of the living world. Against all that was closed and filled with taboos, he offered us clear open spaces. Against the monstrous pride of the powerful, he showed that we are all equal because we are all made of the same flames of stars. To the dispossessed he showed that the whole richness of the universe was in them' -Antoni Tàpies.

‘For me, a painting must give off sparks. It must dazzle like the beauty of a woman or a poem. It must radiate like the flints that shepherds in the Pyrenées use for lighting their pipes’ -Joan Miró

Created in 1926, Painting belongs to Joan Miró’s famed series of ‘oneiric’ or ‘dream’ paintings, an enigmatic group of spectral compositions which the artist began in Paris in 1925. Miró had received his first one-man exhibition of paintings at the Galerie Pierre that June, and used the event to showcase the most recent developments in his oeuvre. Featuring compositions populated by richly fantastic imagery alongside more spare works on flat colour grounds, these whimsical paintings remained rooted in the familiar objects and scenes of the artist’s everyday experiences. Perhaps understanding that the milestone event of his exhibition in June indicated it was time to begin a new chapter in his work, Miró then embarked on a freer, more abstract and adventurously interior approach to painting. Seeking to capture what he once described as ‘all the golden sparks of our souls,’ Miró delved into his subconscious, inner world, drawing from its depths a series of cryptic signs and symbols, shapes and forms, which he then translated on to his canvases (Miró, quoted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 83). The deceptive simplicity of the resulting paintings shocked contemporary viewers, their austere, minimalist aesthetic and ambiguous subject matter securing Miró’s reputation as a revolutionary figure within the European avant-garde, and bringing him to the attention of the leaders of the Surrealist movement.

Miró’s first ‘dream’ paintings were executed while the artist was living and working at 45, rue Blomet, in the 15th arrondissement. In this intensely creative environment Miró found himself surrounded by a circle of pioneering artists and poets, including Michel Leiris, Robert Desnos, and André Masson, who had a studio right next door to his own. Immersing himself in their theories, he spent long hours reading the automatic poetry of his new acquaintances, absorbing their ideas and techniques, and came to see his time there as fundamental to his evolution as an artist: ‘The rue Blomet was a decisive place, a decisive moment for me. It was there that I discovered everything I am, everything I would become’ (Miró, quoted in J. Dupin, 'Memories of the Rue Blomet,’ in ibid, p. 100). However, he later recalled the harsh realities of life as a young painter in Paris, describing the extreme poverty in which he lived, as he went for days on end without a full meal. Speaking to Jacques Dupin, he explained: ‘I ate little and badly. I have already said that during this period hunger gave me hallucinations, and the hallucinations gave me ideas for paintings… It was a period of intense work. I filled my notebooks with drawings, and these served as the starting point for canvases’ (Miró, ibid, p. 103). Indeed, Miró would sit on the floor of his studio, staring at the roughly textured walls of the sparsely decorated room, as these hallucinations filled his imagination with their fleeting forms, traces of an unknowable universe which suddenly flashed into being before his eyes. He would try to capture an impression of his visions on paper or burlap before they shifted and changed, and began to paint with a new vocabulary of abstract imagery, signs and forms plucked from these dream-like apparitions.

Set against a fluid, ethereal blue ground, the elegant, lyrical forms of Painting perfectly capture a sense of this ephemeral, hallucinatory quality that defined Miró’s dream paintings. They appear to hover above the surface of the canvas, their weightless bodies held in place by a strange, atmospheric gravity that binds them together in this temporary configuration. The diaphanous quality of the cloud-like white form which dominates the right hand side of the composition is offset by the richly saturated red element which appears to its left, the elongated, balloon-like character of its profile stretching outwards as if drawn to the larger form by an invisible, magnetic pull. The flowing contours of these amorphous, nebulous forms seem to almost fluctuate before the eye, their loose edges oscillating ever so slightly, as if they may disappear or shift at any moment. The result is a mystical, almost cosmic, composition, an impermanent record of an equally fugitive phenomenon. The rest of the canvas is devoted almost entirely to the rich blue abyss, bar a few thin, meandering black lines and a thick black circle which punctuates the white form. With this sparsity of forms, Miró communicates a poetic mystery, creating a dream-like vision set within an endless blue void.

Painting holds an illustrious provenance, having previously been in the private collection of the esteemed American sculptor, Alexander Calder, who was a close friend of Miró’s throughout his life. The pair first met in Paris in 1928, after a mutual acquaintance recommended that Calder get in touch with the revolutionary Catalan painter on his next visit to the city. The resulting meeting – in which Miró showed Calder a large Spanish Dancer collage at his studio, and Calder, in turn, invited Miró to a performance of the Cirque Calder – would mark the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two artists. Looking back on their relationship in 1960, Calder remembered fondly their early years together: ‘We became very good friends and attended many things together, including a gymnasium. I came to love his painting, his colour, his personages, and we exchanged works… Gymnasium is a thing of the past, but Miró and I go on’ (Calder, quoted in Calder Miró, ed., E. Hutton & O. Wick, exh. cat., Basel, 2004, pp. 27-28). Indeed, they swiftly became a constant and integral presence in one another’s lives, celebrating birthdays together, attending one another’s exhibition openings, and conversing endlessly about their artworks, ideas, and inspirations. These exchanges resulted in a vital artistic dialogue between the two, shaping and influencing each artist’s work as they developed their own individual artistic languages.

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