Within Joan Miró’s works of 1937, Le poète inspiré strikes for its lyrical connotations and juxtaposition of the lively innocence of its signs against an evocative, rich and turbulent palette. Executed on 20 October 1937, this large-scale gouache on cardboard hails from a period of great turmoil for both the artist, and indeed for Europe as a whole. Miró had returned to Paris in the autumn of 1936 to consign works for his upcoming exhibition at the Pierre Matisse gallery in New York. The escalating turmoil of the Spanish Civil War however, forced the artist to remain in the French capital for the next five years, until 1941. Nevertheless, 1937 would also be the year that the artist completed Nature morte au vieux soulier, arguably his masterpiece of the period, currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and referred to by the artist’s friend and biographer, Jacques Dupin as ‘Miró’s Guernica’. Robert Lubar’s reading of Nature morte au vieux soulier as a “collision between realism and abstraction – between the material presence of objects in space and an insistent flatness” (quoted in R. A. Greely, Surrealism and the Spanish civil war, London, 2006, p. 39) also relates closely to Le poète inspiré, most noticeably with the dominant presence of the moon firmly carved within the swirling background, yet rendered entirely one dimensional and symbolic, in rich black pigment.
The deliberate choice of bold and dramatic colour scheme in Le poète inspiré is undoubtedly a reference to the terrible events unfolding in Spain at the time, and as such the work is evidence of Miro’s passionate belief that ‘the forms expressed by an individual who is part of society must reveal the movement of a soul trying to escape the reality of the present, which is particularly ignoble today, in order to approach new realities, to offer other men the possibility of rising above the present.’ (Miró quoted in, ibid., p. 47).
Although we see the whimsical, playful forms that characterised Miró’s Surrealist works, now replaced by haunting, expressive images of individual figures, Le poète inspiré still maintains a level of elegant poignancy from those earlier years. The formal arrangement of a figure, vigorously-rendered through lines threading their way in and around the swathes of rich blue, belies a complex approach. Spontaneous gesture in the sweeping expressive brushstrokes, is combined with precision and control in the bright red and the black elements. In Miró's continued fascination with his materials, and his ability to let them suggest a means of progressing with his image, process and gesture are lent a vivid primacy in Le poète inspiré.
A rare and significant work from 1937, La poète inspiré, at once dares to challenge through the known political context of its execution and dramatic imagery, yet also, as its title suggests, formerly maintains a poetic lyricism, refusing to let the horrors of its time dominate.