The present work is Miró's unique preliminary maquette for Personnage, which is likewise unique, and was also executed in 1972 in painted synthetic resin, measuring more than eleven feet across (Miró and Chapel, no. 267; Kentucky Center Endowment Fund, Louisville; fig. 1). Robert Haligon, a specialist in epoxy casting, produced the sculptures in his studio in Périgny-sur-Yerres. Both this maquette and the monumental figure were based on the sculpture Femme, which was cast in a bronze edition of eight in 1949 (Miró and Chapel, no. 37).
This personnage may be likened to Mère Ubu--Miró often delighted in depicting the grotesquely larger-than-life characters in Alfred Jarry's 1896 farcical play. The artist gave this title to a figure done in 1975 (Miró and Chapel, no. 333), which shares some of the features seen in the present sculpture. Whatever her identity, this personnage is certainly female. She wears emblazoned on her torso the typically Miróesque emblem of her sex. Her upper body is concave and womb-like. She carries her breasts on her back. She bestrides the space she occupies atop a pair of ponderous, elephantine legs, one of which is adorned with a sign for the female buttocks, incongruously appearing on the front of her body. With grossly outsize feet that anchor her to the earth, she is a monstrous but comical neolithic fertility goddess. Jacques Dupin has described her kind:
"What are these figures that stand before us? Difficult to identify, despite their affirmation and because of their intensity... Neither men nor beasts, nor monsters nor intermediate creatures, but with something of all of these... Their aggressive presence is a blend of the grotesque and the incongruous, of predatory fascination and the artlessness of the primitive game The unfailing laughter of these creatures freezes before bursting out; it is in us, beyond us, that it tears the walls and the sky. We feel its commotion as it passes, its charge of dynamite in suspense and a sinking of the ground under its passage, a trembling in the air, a tumult of freshness" (in Miró as Sculptor, Barcelona, 1976, pp. 25-26).
Although Miró had created surrealist painting-objects during the late 1920s and 1930s, it was not until a decade later, while he was living in Palma, Montroig and Barcelona during the Second World War, that he considered making free-standing sculptures. He wrote in his Working Notes, 1941-1942, "it is in sculpture that I will create a truly phantasmagoric world of living monsters; what I do in painting is more conventional" (in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, Boston, 1986, p. 175). He began to create sculptures as a further development in the ceramic objects he was making in collaboration with Josep Artigas. The possibility of undertaking larger and more imposing sculptures became a reality when Miró's "big studio," about which the artist had dreamed for years, was finally built in 1956, in Palma. Dupin described this new dimension in Miró's art:
"Miró had formed the desire to leave the laboratory behind, to go beyond easel painting for the sake of a new space, and more impersonal sites, less confined and protected than those of the studio. He dreamt of the street, public squares, gardens and cities. Just as he had always sought to transgress painting, he now sought to transgress his own work, to cross over the boundaries of walled galleries and museums. He wanted to address his work to anonymous crowds, to the unknown viewer... One starts off by modeling a figurine in clayand winds up erecting a city monument" (in Miró, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 361 and 367).