Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Joan Miro

Calendar at the bottom of post


 "Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox of the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride."

Joan Miro was raised in Catalonian Spain. He and his family often took trips to their farm in Montroig. There, Miro enjoyed the peace of the country life and the beauty of nature.  The plants, animals, insects, stars, moon, and seaside of the country are often shown in his artworks. Miro studied what he saw in nature and painted it as a world filled with imagination. In his painting, colorful creatures float and faces appear in the night sky. You might even see a dog with elephant ears or a fish what seems to fly. 

THE FARM, 1921-22 oil on canvas, 48 1/4 x 55 5/8 

When Miro was seventeen, he first visited his parents' new summer house, near the Mediterranean Sea. It was a farm in Montroig, a village about sixty miles from Barcelona, Spain. His love of the countryside in Montroig led to his lifelong custom of spending his summers there. Miro said of The Farm: The painting was absolutely realistic. Everything that's in the painting was actually there. I didn't invent anything. I only eliminated the fencing on the front of the chicken coop because it kept you from seeing the animals. 

Miro says that the painting is a realistic depiction. However, it seems to fluctuate  between a realistic recording of the scene and more dreamlike imagery. The landscape, for instance, pulsates with hot, clear sunshine, but the blazing light casts no shadows. In the midday sky, the sun is represented by a disk that, oddly, is silvery gray-- the color of the moon. A cart totters on a single wheel. Moreover, we know the barn at Montroig was well kept, not crumbling as it seems to be here. 

Tilled Field, 1923-24

Does this image in any way resemble the previous slide showing a farm? Here you see Miro used geometric shapes to create a scene filled with objects which have some of the characteristics and shapes we regard to as animals, insects, trees and a house. 

Carnival of Harlequin, 1925

This  painting is filled with a variety of insects and animals doing various activities. If you look to the upper left you will even see what looks like two people with a mermaid body. Can you find a fish, cat, bee in a box, and what appears to be sheet music? You will notice that Miro often uses primary colors: red, blue, yellow and green along with black and white. 

Dutch Interior I, 1928, Oil on Canvas

This is one of a series of 5 paintings he made during the summer of 1928 after a trip to Holland. The painting got its origins from a postcard Miro bought from a museum. The original postcard image depicts a player with his instrument done in a naturalistic 17th century Dutch fashion with accurate shading, modeling, and perspective, but Miro recreates the image and he changes the relative scale of all the elements dramatically. Miro enlarges the head of the player (ballooned white circle) and gives the red face a grimacing look with a displaced mustache placed to the left. Miro attacks human anatomy by taking its classical harmonious form and scaling it down so small that all that can now be seen is one tiny leg hanging down at the bottom of the instrument. 

The Garden

Can you imagine the bird in the tree (upper right) chirping to the other birds nearby, "This is my place!"  Below, the plants sway and lean toward the sun, while insects pause in their grazing . Hidden beneath another bird waits, dreaming of flowers. A woman hesitates at the entrance to the garden surveying all that lies before her. The sun, a star, gazes overhead. 

The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a pair of Lovers (from the Constellation Series), 1941, Gouache, oil wash and charcoal on Paper.

This is one of 24 drawings created during a period of personal crisis for Miro triggered by the Spanish Civil War and WWII. These works allowed Miro to escape from the tragedies of war by connecting with nature. What does the title tell you about this painting? Do you think Miro depicts the luminous constellations in a clear night sky? 

The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I'm overwhelmed when I see, in a immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun.  There, in my pictures, tiny forms in huge empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains--everything which is bare has always greatly impressed me. ~Joan Miro, 1958, quoted in Twentieth-Century Artist on Art

Nocturne, 1940 Tempera, gouache, egg, oil and pastel on paper

With organic shapes Miro creates a wonderful world of fantasy. On the far right, he creates what looks like the basic structure of a stick person which he fills in with some small details-eyes, nose and antennas protruding from its head. There is humor in his creation. How many faces do you see? 

Cat Encircled by the Flight of a Bird

Can you find the cat and the bird? Where do you think the bird began and finished his flight? 

People and Dog in the Sun

What do you think represents the sun? Do you often think of the sun as being red? Is this painting symmetrical? Are any of the shapes repeated? Do these people appear to be floating?