In the early 1970s, Miró was preparing for one of the most historic retrospectives of his work, to be held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1974. Tracing the entire career of the artist, the exhibition presented Miró’s early, established works as well as his most recent, experimental paintings. Miró had personally insisted on the inclusion of his latest works, sending more than one hundred canvases, on which he had been working since 1969, directly from his studio to the Grand Palais.
The present lot, conceived around bold, black shapes, complemented by flat color, fits into Miró’s concept for the exhibition: the innovative series stood as a new, formal experiment in which the artist intended to attain the symbols of his art through the interaction of flat areas of color and black, calligraphic brushstrokes.
Works such as Sans titre I were executed in stages over long periods of time, letting forms and colors gradually determine their own evolution. In 1974, Miró explained this particular working method, "I work in stages—first stage, the blacks; with the other stages comes the rest, which is given to me by the blacks" (Y. Taillandier, "Miró, Now I Work on the Floor," in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró, Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 285). Here, the black elements give structure and rhythm to the composition. After the black, Miró would introduce the red, and once this section was finished he would only add one spot of blue to the picture. He explained, "Then I studied the painting for a time before resuming. When all the red is in, I begin to know where to put the blue" (quoted in W. Rubin, Miró in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1973, p. 102). The same process was repeated for the green and yellow. Miró would often add each section of color weeks apart, leaving the work to breathe and grow over time.
According to Jacques Dupin, Miró's primordial signs, arising from a deeply animistic spirit and executed in energetic gestures, are best expressed on paper: "The sign's vivacity is nowhere more evidently produced and fortified than in Miró's improvisations on paper; the site par excellence for the sign's confrontation with the void's corrosive, vivifying power. The sign replies to these continual attacks, transforming itself through an endless series of mutations and encounters; these improvisations are the sign's open laboratory and, for Miró, the extremity of his pleasure" (Miró, Paris, 2004, p. 355).