Over two metres tall, Tête, 1974, is an ‘Assemblage-Sculpture’ by Joan Miró. Created from disparate, estranged objects, the work illustrates the artist’s playful imagination, as well as his ability to see heads, birds and women hidden in seemingly inconsequential elements. In Tête, Miró has transformed a rope buoy into a head: carved out of it, a teardrop-shaped cavity evokes a mouth, while – balanced precariously above – an old tool may represent an alert eye, whose round pupil seems to swing along its border while a handle is transformed into a single eye lash. Alternatively the form of Tête can be interpreted as an entire body and symbol of fecundity, the tear-shaped recess a typical Miróesque emblem of the female sex.
Inspired by the shape of an old buoy, Tête was probably created at Mont-roig. It was there that Miró used to explore the seashore, in search of unexpected gifts brought to him by chance and the movement of tides: wood planks, broken glass, plastic forms corroded by the salt of the sea. Indeed, it was from these sudden encounters that Miró’s sculptures were born. The artist’s friend Jacques Dupin explained: ‘These works began with Miró slipping out of his studio, unseen, only to return with an impromptu harvest of objects – his bounty – without value or use, but susceptible, in his view, of combinations and surprising metamorphoses. All these objects had been abandoned, thrown away or forgotten by nature and man alike, and Miró recognized them as his own. This refuse was the visionary’s secret treasure, his infinitely rich deposit of insignificant objects, still imbued with the smells of the beach, construction site, dump or port where they have been found’ (J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 2012, p. 374).
Miró’s selection process was mysterious and surprising. Dupin, who often accompanied the artist on his treasure hunts along the beach, was often unable to predict what would arouse the artist’s imagination, yet he sensed that, for Miró, this daily exercise was something more than a playful distraction: ‘Seizing a crushed old tin was for him an important act, a serious task. He was convinced that whatever his foot might stumble over on the edge of a path could very well overwhelm our world’ (ibid., p. 374). In this regard, sculptures such as Tête constitute real Post-War vestiges of one of the most remarkable and subversive strategies of Surrealism: the transformation of everyday, disregarded objects into poetic, meaningful images.