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Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SPANISH COLLECTION
Joan Miró (1893-1983)


Joan Miró (1893-1983)
signed 'Miró' (center right); dated and titled '26/XI/70 Tête' (on the reverse).
oil and black ink on card
25¾ x 35 3/8 in. (65.5 x 90 cm.)
Executed in 1970
The artist's Estate.
Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles.
Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco.
Galería Barcelona, Barcelona.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 19 September 2003.
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.
Sale Room Notice
Please note the correct medium for this lot:
oil and black ink on card

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Jacques Dupin and ADOM.

Spontaneous, charged with ambiguous meaning and symbolic language, Tête expresses the vigorous, bold energy of Joan Miró's works in the 1970s. Outlined in bright colours, two shapes float on a black weave: on the right, an orange pear-shaped form, hosting an eye at its centre, on the left, in red, a phallic symbol. In the background a swirl of black and brown colour adds depth, creating a cavernous effect. Aligned with the red eye, two colour spots - blue and green -introduce a syncopated rhythm to the image, while a yellow line next to the red shape brings a ray of light, accentuating the red shape's tilting movement above the weave.

While, in the 1920s, Miró created a meticulous and biomorphic symbolic system, by the 1970s he had gradually developed a more direct, yet highly personal vocabulary. As he expressed in 1959, 'a deeply experienced individual gesture is anonymous the more limited something is, the more universal it becomes' (J. Miró, quoted in W. Erben, Miró, London, 1998, p. 232). In Tête, the symbols resonate as though they were the primordial forms of a proto-language, in fact they belong to the artist's personal world of signs. In the 1960s, Miró had started to explore the media of bronze and ceramic, transforming the creatures of his paintings into sculptures. On a bronze work - executed in the same year of Tête and bearing the same title - he engraved an identical pear-shaped eye, suggesting that the symbol carried in that year a particular importance for Miró. While in the sculpture, the carved lines carry the stillness of a petrified fossil, in Tête, vibrant with colour and acquiring meaning by proximity with the other elements, the shape's significance becomes open to various readings.

In its technique, Tête is an exquisite example of Miró's gestural approach to painting of those years. In 1952, he had seen the work of Jackson Pollock, exhibited at the Galerie Facchetti, and their drippings had made a strong impression on him, liberating him from the traditional brush. By 1974, Miró declared that he used ' [his] fingers to paint' and that he had already 'spread out the colour with [his] fist rubbing it around in a circle' (J. Miró, quoted in M. Rowell, (ed.), Joan Miró, Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 285). Both methods might have been put in use in Tête, a work that strikes for the energy of its background. Although painted entirely in oil, Miró achieved a vast range of texture effects on the surface. The opaque, impenetrable black of the weave contrasts with the fuzziness of the brown cloud above it. Similarly, the thick, smooth lines of the two shapes are at odds next to the velvety feeling of the blue and green spots around them. With Tête, Miró reaffirmed his willingness to explore the material in all its expressive possibilities, following the inspiration its malleability suggested.

By the 1970s Miró had become a central figure in the world of modern art, appearing in many important exhibitions and dedicating his energy to large, public works. At the same time, he exploited the prominence of his artistic position to support the political unrest which defied Franco's Regime at the beginning of the 1970s. In 1969 an important retrospective was held in Barcelona, at the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu. Defying this official sanctioned display of Miró's works, a group of architects organized Miró Otro, focusing on the political undertones of the anti-artistic drive of his pictures which challenged the Regime cultural authorities. Painted on the floor, with hands and fingers, dripping colours and impulsive strokes, Miró's works acquired new subversive power in the context of the repressive regime. in 1973, Miró went as far as burning his canvases, leaving the bare bones of the pictur'es stretchers exposed in the middle of the excoriated surface. Works such as Tête, however, also show how the new methods remained firmly rooted in the artist's personal, relentless exploration of signs. 'First stage, the blacks', Miró wrote, 'and then the rest, which is determined by the blacks' (J. Miró, quoted in ibid.). The abstract, gestural background in Tête provided the fertile ground on which coloured, whispering signs could surface.

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