ADOM (Association pour la défense de l’oeuvre de Joan Miró) have confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Personnages, never offered at auction before, was executed in 1960, a landmark year for Miró, and encapsulates the artist’s rejuvenated and liberated approach at this time.
In 1956 Miró had finally found the studio that he had been dreaming about since the 1930s, a large, light-filled, white-painted studio set on the hills overlooking the coast in Palma de Mallorca. The move to this new studio permitted him to evaluate and contemplate much of his life’s work. Unpacking hundreds of paintings, drawings and sketchbooks, some of which he had not seen since they were stored in Paris at the outbreak of the Second World War, Miró was able to look back and consider his artistic development across decades of work. ‘I went through a process of self-examination’, the artist recalled, ‘I “criticised” myself coldly and objectively… It was a shock, a real experience. I was merciless with myself. I destroyed many canvases…my current work comes out of what I learned during that period’ (Miró quoted in J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1993, p. 257). After this phase of rigorous self-reflection and cathartic purging, by 1960, Miró wanted to start afresh, leaving his past achievements behind and instead advance forward to explore the unknown. In the words of Jacques Dupin, Miró, ‘resisted tested formulas, the endless rehashing of discoveries already made, and liked to take chances. He returned to the iconoclastic fury of his youth, but it was now against himself that this rage was to be directed’ (J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1993, p. 303).
Another stimulus to his re-energised artistic output in 1960 was a trip to America in 1959. The first retrospective of Miró’s work had been held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1941. His highly individual artistic language had an enormous impact on the group of young artists who were beginning to make their reputations in New York at that time: Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffmann, Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman. Just as Miró’s work had, many years earlier, exerted a deep and pivotal influence on this group of artists, after this 1959 visit, Miró was left profoundly moved by their radical painting. Inspired by the dramatically large-scale, gestural style of painting by the likes of Pollock, Motherwell and Franz Kline, Miró returned to his own work with a renewed intensity and freedom, revelling in the expressive power that colour and gesture could exert when applied without restraint. 'It showed me the liberties we can take, and how far we can go, beyond the limits. In a sense it freed me...' (quoted in ibid, p. 303).
Miró used white, monochrome grounds in the final conception of his ‘dream’ or ‘oneiric’ paintings of the mid-1920s. In these paintings, the whimsical lines, signs and ciphers of Miró’s distinct pictorial language mark the flattened white background, seemingly floating within a limitless, infinite and dream-like space. Personnages shows clear links in scale, composition and execution to these monochrome grounds of the 1920s, as well as the influence of his recent encounter in New York with the Abstract Expressionists. The monochrome grounds of the 1920s oneiric paintings are echoed in the radiant white of the sheet on the left hand side of the composition, acting as a stark contrast to the bright green figure. The influence of the Abstract Expressionists is seen in the loose and seemingly frenzied application of a darker gouache over the bright yellows, purples, pinks and blues of the taller central figure. Dazzling spots of orange and purple and blue frame the composition on the right hand side. Personnages is a poetic union of colour and form, a perfect visual representation of his renewed efforts in 1960 to push his oeuvre to its furthermost limits.