Sunday, June 1, 2014

Miro, Joan

Carnival of Harlequin (Carnaval d'Arlequin)
oil on canvas
66 x 90.5 cm
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA
-Fair use-

Through paintings, the Surrealists tried to capture images of dreams and subconscious thoughts. The unusual combinations of symbols, shapes and colors were a deliberate break from the traditional, realistic form of painting. The basic idea was to try to paint without thinking, without preparation or planning.

Carnival of Harlequin is one of Joan Miro's best-known works. Harlequin was a common theater character who was usually the victim of unrequited love and frequently played the guitar. Other than Harlequin, it seems very joyous, with all kinds of hybrid creatures playing, singing, dancing, and celebrating.
Busy Insects and gawking cats amongst masked men, rolling dice and dancing figurines.

Miro explained some of the imagery in 1978: "In the canvas certain elements appear that will be repeated later in other works: the ladder, an element of flight and evasion, but also of elevation; animals, and above all, insects, which I have always found very interesting; the dark sphere that appears to the right is a representation of the globe, because in those days I was obsessed with one idea: 'I must conquer the world!;' the cat, who was always by my side as I painted. The black triangle that appears in the window represents the Eiffel Tower. I tried to deepen the magical side of things."

"What I am seeking... is a motionless movement, something equivalent to what is called the eloquence of silence..." "Perhaps the events of the moment, especially the drama of the war in Spain, I did feel the need to penetrate reality. I used to go every day to work at the Grande Chaumiere (art school in Paris) in nature. At that moment I felt a need to control things through the reality" (Miro)

Joan Miro i Ferra (1893-1983) was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. He attended a commercial school and worked as an office clerk until a mental breakdown persuaded his artisan father to permit him to study art. From the beginning he sought to express concepts of nature metaphorically. From 1919 on he lived alternately in Spain and Paris, where he came under the influence of Dadaism and Surrealism. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent in his dream pictures and imaginary landscapes of the late 1920s, in which linear configurations and patches of color look almost as though they had been set down randomly. His mature style evolved from the tension between this fanciful, poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life.

Miro was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style.

Earning international acclaim, Miro's work has been interpreted as a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, he expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favor of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.

Miro worked extensively in lithography and produced numerous murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundacio Joan Miro, was established in his birth city in 1975.