Jacques Dupin describes the early 1930s as years of great importance in the development of Miró's work: "... it was just at this time that his art underwent changes as sudden and far reaching as to deserve the term 'cataclysmic'. The serene works of the years devoted to concentration on plastic concerns and to spiritual control of figures and signs now gave way to a new outburst of subjectivism, to an expressionistic unleashing of instinctual forces. The volcano which for some years now had been quiescent suddenly erupted. The clear skies suddenly clouded over, and a violent storm proceeded to darken the peaceful artistic climate—indeed, to shake Miró's art to its foundation" (Joan Miró, Life and Work, London, 1962, p. 262). Miró, from the early 1930s onward, went through a period of continuous experimentation in various techniques and materials: paintings on cardboard, gouaches on a watercolor background, drawings in India ink on white paper and watercolor, and paintings on uralita wood, and sandpaper. He also began a series of egg tempera paintings on masonite and a series of oil paint on copper, which he finished in 1936.
The present work belongs to this period of fervent experimentation and creativity. Executed in 1936 while Miró was living in Barcelona, Métamorphoses is part of a series of humorous and inventive collage-drawings that differed from his previous works. Whereas the earlier collages were more rigorous in form and content and focused on images of machinery, these new works were more whimsical and liberated, incorporating images of kitschy postcards and advertisements, and amusing animals, fauna and flora appropriated from children's books. In the present composition, Miró randomly placed images of an astrologer, sea creatures, flowers, stockinged legs and a bird upon the white sheet. He playfully drew on and around these images creating fantastic figures with quick strokes of a pencil or with a brush dipped in ink. As Alberto Giacometti once relayed to Pierre Schneider, "Miró was synonymous with freedom—something more aerial, more liberated, lighter than anything I had seen before. In one sense he possessed absolute perfection. Miró could not put a dot on a sheet of paper without hitting square on the target. He was so truly a painter that it was enough for him to drop three spots of color on the canvas, and it would come to life—it would be a painting" (quoted in P. Schneider, "Miró," Horizon, no. 4, March 1959, pp. 70-81).
Dupin lauds Miró's collage-drawings "surrealist montages of a sort, full of humor and freshness—very much masterpieces of this genre, not just because of the poetic state of grace they reflect, but even more because of the very great plastic resources that Miró, along with Max Ernst, brought to the service of fantasy—something few artists are capable of doing...Miró's superiority over his surrealist friends in this domain also rests upon the candor and casualness with which he solicited chance; there is a constant felicity and ease in his 'findings'" (Miró, Paris, 2004, p. 180).