In May 1938 Miró wrote a brief text about his early struggles as an artist that he titled I Dream of a Large Studio. In 1956 his wish was finally fulfilled: the architect Josep Lluis Sert designed and built a spacious, light-filled and fully equipped studio to Miró's specifications on the terraced hills overlooking Palma de Mallorca. This new workspace inspired Miró to return to painting after a five-year hiatus during which he mainly experimented in ceramic-making, lithography and engraving. He could now work comfortably and daily on a larger scale, and explore novel techniques in paint on canvas.
Miró's interest in larger formats stems from the mural commissions that he painted in America during the first half of the 1950s -- for the Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati (Dupin 817) and Harvard University (Dupin 893) -- and he admired the tendency of the American gestural painters to work on larger-than-easel-size surfaces. Following his first trip to America in 1947, during which he worked on the Cincinnati mural in a New York studio, his interaction with American painting became a significant influence on his art.
Many of these painters, notably Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock acknowledged their debt to Miró who in turn, displayed lively interest in their work and never missed an opportunity to encourage and support them. Nor did he consider it beneath his dignity to use their discoveries on occasion. But even when he deliberately borrowed techniques invented or adopted by his juniors--such as the drip-and-splash technique--his works always bear so deep an imprint of his personality that no error of attribution is possible. They preserve the rhythm, the breathing, and the climate of all the Catalan's creations. In most cases, starting from the new techniques, to which his prodigious sensitivity to materials and accidental discoveries gives unexpected powers, Miró goes beyond these to effect a pictorial and poetic operation raised to the second power, from which arise new meanings (J. Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 1993, pp. 304-305).
In a 1959 interview, the year in which the present work was painted, Joan Miró discussed his improvisational working method:
...I never use a canvas just as it comes from the paint-seller.
I provoke accidents, a shape, a patch of color. Any accident will do. At the beginning, it's a straightforward thing. It's the material that decides. I prepare a background, by cleaning my brushes on the canvas, for example. Pour a little gasoline will do just as well. If it's for a drawing, crumple the paper. I wet it. The running water outlines the shape. The sketch would impose a next stage. If you start to paint, I'll continue. It is the material that determines everything. I'm against any preconceived, dead, intellectual research. The painter works like the poet: The word comes first, the thought after. You don't decide to write about human happiness! Or if you do, you're screwed. Scribble something. For me, that will be a startling point, a shock. I attach a great deal of importance
to the initial shock (G. Charbonnier, Le monologue du peinture, Paris, 1959, p. 121).
In the present painting Miró uses a rich chocolate-colored ground to give the impression of deep cosmic space, which he covers with spinning circular galaxies and dark nebulas. The hook-shaped figure of the bird hovers among them, far beyond its normal terrestrial habitat, filling the immensity of the universe like a huge angel.