FINE ARTS EXHIBITION: Joan Miró
Dear fine art lovers!
Gallery-Museum Lendava and Municipality of Lendava
invites you and your friends to the opening of the exhibition
of graphics of
which will be held on Friday, 15 April 2016 at 19h/7 pm
at the Lendava Castle.
Welcome speech will be held by Beata Lazar,
director of Gallery-Museum Lendava.
The exhibition be discussed by MSc. Anton Balažek,
Mayor of the Municipality of Lendava and art historian
Dr. Janez Balažic.
The exhibition will be opened by Mag. Julijana Bizjak Mlakar,
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.
A collection of Joan Miró (1893–1983) graphics, Catalanclassics of 20th century European art, will be exhibited in the Lendava Castle from April 15 to September 30, 2016. 95 of Miró’s graphics and 15 of his posters from the private collection of Richard H. Mayer from Germany can beadmired at the exhibition. As one of the most important Spanish painters, sculptors and graphics artists of the 20th century, no suggestions could be forced upon Miró, and he broke all traditions with his artworks. e artist discoursed enthusiastically about paintings created on paper, for he was convinced that paperallowed the artist more freedom.
Exhibition organizers: The Gallery-Museum Lendava and Kontakt Verlag, Neufahrn bei Freising.
The exhibition will be on view until 30 September 2016.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
An exhibition of graphics by
Joan Miró (1893–1983)
I’m a pessimist. I always think that everything is going to turn out badly.
If there is something humorous in my paintings it’s not that I have
consciously looked for it. Perhaps this humor comes from a need to
escape the tragic side of my temperament.1
Joan Miró was born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893. His mother was Dolores Ferra i Oromí and came from Palma de Mallorca; his father, Miquel Miró i Adzaries, was a goldsmith and watchmaker from the vicinity of Tarragona in Catalonia. Joan Miró spent his early youth in Barcelona. When he was seven years old, he began to attend a private school at Calle del Regomir and at that time he also received his very first lessons in drawing. Against his will, but for the sake of his father, he attended a business school in 1907. He studied at the La Lonja School of Fine Arts at the same time, where his teachers were Modesto Urgell Inglada, a romantic landscape painter, and José Pasco Merisa, Professor of Applied Arts. From a web of unfortunate circumstances, Miró became severely ill in 1911, culminating in a nervous breakdown, so his parents moved with him to their country farm in Montroig in the province of Tarragona. After young Joan’s recovery, he ultimately produced only art.
Miró studied at the avant-garde Academy of Francisco Galí in Barcelona from 1912 until 1915; but from October 1913 to 1918 he was also drawing at the Saint Lluc Artists’ Circle. He held his first solo exhibition between February 16 and March 3, 1918 in the Barcelona Dalmau Gallery. His works from this period suggest an origin in Cézanne’s concept of image analysis, in Matisse’s pure color surfaces and decorative arabesque and, clearly, in relevant artistic interpretations of Cubist art forms from Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Sonia Delaunay.
Contemporary French painting undoubtedly magnified Miró’s exploratory nature at this point, particularly after his first visit to Paris in 1920. Certainly the painter’s artistic character was shaped by his inclination towards avant-garde currents, which is confirmed by his relatively early contact with Dadaism; namely, when the first Dadaist magazine “391” was published in 1917 in Barcelona, he made the acquaintance of Francis Picabia, an important protagonist of Parisian, and later New York, Dadaism. One could say that in such a spiritual atmosphere and in his preoccupation with creativity, Miró’s artistic language gradually matured and is reflected in the landscapes he created between 1918 and 1922.2 In the spirit of magic realism and under the perceptible influence of customs officer Rousseau, they depict the rural milieu of domestic Montroig. Minutely rendered details of flora and fauna stand out alongside the topographically identifiable likeness of village houses, homesteads3 and figurative sequences. A high degree of stylization characterizes the forms, so they appear nearly arabesque and harmonize in a unique, brilliant Catalonian coloration. Miró’s early works and his art in general contain everything that is typical, and for him commonly characteristic, which, in a seemingly simple system of signs, reveal the spiritual essence of the world.
In this context, it is important to highlight the traits of the, we could even say canonical, works that Miró painted in 1923-1924, superbly exemplified by The Tilled Field4 and Catalan Landscape (The Hunter).5 In other words, they show a newly formed artistic language whose elements, as Hajo Düchting excellently noted,6 are based on a close observation of nature and an interpretion of its magical properties in a poetic system of peculiar signs and colors. It is a realm of rudimentary symbols, caught in geometric shapes, circles, triangles, cones, etc. on various spatial planes, and in tiny, highly abstract abridgements of the objective universe. Here, of course, is also a bold use of basic art elements like dots, diverse flat, thin, reinforced, vigorous lines and the written word, to geometric figures, which make up an iconographically- acknowledged conglomeration of signs. This in no way has only one meaning; to the contrary, it is multifaceted, multi-meaninged, emotionally evocative and, in a covert manner, sexually associative. It is right on the edge between the real and the surreal, between cognitive consciousness and a phantasmagorical embodiment of the unconscious mind.
Miró’s crypto-symbols, stylized artistically and attuned to phantasmagorical semblances of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and vegetable spheres, translated, so to speak, into copious character symbols, look magically uncomplicated. In spite of numerous interpretations that, in the sense of a creativity paradigm, discern a psychic automatism in Miró’s creative process, which obviously places his works within a surrealistically psychological reception, nonetheless, it may be useful to recall the artist’s earlier point of departure. Namely, prior to 1919 Miró explored dimensions with naturalistic tendencies and on his way to stylization sought hints of his own expression in oriental art. “The arabesque became calligraphy. There was great modesty in all this, and there was something religious about the way I painted.”7 It can be understood from the foregoing that Miró arrived at his unique formal postulates through the abstraction and stylization of nature, therewith defining the basis of his original art formulations and his identifiable expression. It follows that Miró’s ability to invent artistically comes as close as possible to including such concepts as are found in uniquely spiritual, properly religious, experiences. Only later did he fully arrive at a suitable reception of psychic automatism, both artistic and religious, visual and spiritual, in accordance with Surrealism.
Miró’s artistic canon, therefore, is based on psychic automatism, which means that the process of creating a work of art implies the specific building up of images with random hand activity on the selected surface. The final product and external aspect of Miró’s artworks are the result of highly authentic reflexes of the unconscious mind. Of course, his fields of inspiration, extremely binding within the meaning of psycho-automatic receptions, came from an exceptionally wide spectrum of influences: from rich folk traditions, meditation, dream visions, hallucinatory states, mysterious, mystical experiences, disguised erotic phantasms to magic and occult practices.
A crucial time in Miró’s life and work was, accordingly, during the twenties. In addition to his native Montroig, he spent increasingly more time in Paris. From the outset he befriended his compatriot, Pablo Picasso and became acquainted with the Dadaists, with Francis Picabia, Pierre Reverdy, Tristan Tzara, although ultimately he was closer to a circle of Surrealists, André Breton, Paul Éluard, André Masson, Louis Aragon and others. In spite of similarities in creativity, philosophy and world view, however, Miró never wanted to become a member of the Surrealistic group. In fact, more than anything, his proximity to Dadaism — from which avant-garde movement Surrealism grew — evoked his exploratory restlessness, intellectual broadness and boundless faith in the power of the poetic in art.
In the second half of the 1920s, Miró presented to the fields of meaning and art his idea for so-called “poetic” pictures by painting the words of poems in them. Around and after 1930 his paintings became increasingly abstract. By incorporating collage and experimenting with art materials he intended, as he himself stated, “to assassinate painting,”8 very strongly approaching an anti-aesthetic and anti-painting idiom. In some respects an exit from all that is seen in a series of pictures he painted after 1932, upon whose pure abstract color planes he expressed a momentary, concrete spiritual reality. That such a reality is unique and unrepeatable is apparent in Miró’s own statement: “When I stand in front of a canvas, I never know what I’m going to do–and nobody is more surprised than I at what comes out.”9
At the beginning of the second half of the 1930s, his so-called “Wild Paintings” occupied the next stage in the development of his works. Their subdued, darker colors bear an ominous, apocalyptic air. They came into being, after all, at a time when civil war raged in Spain. From its inception until 1940, Miró did not return to Spain and his homestead in Catalonia’s Montroig. Miro’s attitude toward and commitment to the Republican side, together with the unfortunately destroyed mural, The Reaper, which, alongside Picasso’s Guernica, represented the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition in 1937, may be best illustrated by his remarkable poster, Aidez l’Espagne (Help Spain!), that also appeared the same year as a silk screen print. As well as its social preoccupation and political weight, however, the articulate, commanding poster naturally has artistic elements, evident in the contrast between its blue background and the expressive, stylized features of the figure with a raised fist, in yellow, red, white and black. The poster’s artistic character is very indicative, for it depicts the contrasting colors of Miró’s postwar print oeuvre, which is, of course, the central theme of the Lendava exhibition.
This exhibition of Joan Miró’s prints originated in the already-established co-operation between the Gallery-Museum Lendava and the Kunstgalerie Böttingerhaus, together with the Bamberg collector and patron, Mr. Richard H. Mayer. Lendava’s curators were able to select graphics for the exhibition only from an available stock in the Mayer collection. Thus, it holds to some extent that for the showing of the graphics in Lendava only a partial insight into Miró’s print creativity is provided, dating back to after he had won the Grand Prix at the XXVII. Venice Biennale in 1954. Truth be told, however, it is necessary to add that this is a colorful selection aiming to satisfy all eager lovers of art and especially those who admire Joan Miró. Lendava’s exhibition brings a veritable spectrum of Miró’s colored lithographs (stone prints) to view, that originated from around the mid-50s until the artist’s death in 1983.
Although the majority of them come from Miro’s later print oeuvre, it nevertheless seems called for to highlight some of the main characteristics of their development. Namely, the artist focused on printmaking intensively only in his later years, sometime around 1933, when he created the picture, Daphnis and Cloé in dry needle and aquatint. If it is possible to observe an analogy with Picasso in it, then the etchings from a few years later, Giant and Woman and Volcano (1938),10 seem to be in complete accordance with Miro’s already totally recognizable iconographic acceptance of Surrealism. Similarly, on the level of dream representation, the same is also reflected in his 1947 etching, Woman and Bird in Front of the Moon (Femme et oiseau devant la moon), where Miró utilizes compact, outline forms and in the outcome, anticipates his own exceptional sculptural productions. All his “poetic” paintings that came forth before 1930 effectively reached out to poetry as a source of inspiration. In addition to his own poems, his visualized subjects came from the poetical works of his great literary contemporaries. Already in 1948 he began to create eighty colored woodcuts for a collection of poems, A Toute Épreuve (Foolproof), by Paul Éluard, but he didn’t finish them until 1958.11
As well as the demanding techniques of etchings and dry needle, and also woodcuts, the bulk of Miró’s printmaking was actually made up of color lithographs. Miro already illustrated a book of poems with lithographs in 1930, L’Arbre des voyageurs (The Traveler’s Tree; Éditions de la Montagne) by Tristan Tzara, but his deep interest in lithography only became apparent during his first American journey in 1947, while visiting Stanley William Hayter’s Studio 17 in Greenich Village. Indeed, the following year he made a major move towards the production of color lithographs. His design of a poster for an exhibition in the Parisian Galerie Maeght marks the beginning of this creative process. The gallery owner, Aimé Maeght, in close cooperation with various top artists, followed an affirmative mission by publishing a number of prestigious folders of prints and bibliophile editions and distributing them abundantly on the art market. Joan Miró was also induced to take part. Between the years 1948-1950, he illustrated Tzara’s poetry collection, Speaking Alone. Poetry (Parler seul. Poème) with twenty color lithographs. The Galerie Maeght published, in addition to Tristan Tzara and Paul Éluard, other exceptionally valuable, bibliophile editions of poetry in subsequent years: André Breton, René Char, André Frénaud, Michel Leiris and Raimond Queneu. The Mourlot Studio in Paris also carried out important work, particularly by producing extensive copies of luxurious editions of prints.12 It was led by the great printmaking master, Fernand Mourlot. Large series of prints from many great artists and Miró’s contemporaries, like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall and others, originated there. Miró spent most of his time in Spain after 1956, mainly in a prominent studio in Palma de Mallorca designed by his friend and compatriot, architect Josep Lluís Sert. Today it is the seat of Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró. According to his plans, the Joan Miró Foundation building was erected in Barcelona twelve years later, in 1968, within the framework of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art (Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d’Estudis d’Art Contemporani). In the Spanish mileu, Miró composed a large part of his later print oeuvre in his native Montroig, as well as in the other abovementioned places.
It was a time of exceptional productivity for Miró, which, of course, this exhibition shows in about a quarter of the sporadically chosen color lithographs, such as The Lizard with Feathers of Gold (Le Lezard aux Plumes d’Or), with its meaningful tinge and artistic freshness; or motifs after Satie’s Poems and Chansons (Composition Satie Poémes et Chansons); Proverbs (Ma de proverbis), and his etchings and color 28 aquatints based on Courtier Grotesque (Le Courtisan Grotesque). He created a more resolved and assertive series (1974) under a common “leitmotiv,” Sculpture… (Escultura …), an ideological projection on countries of the world. A full twenty color lithographs, characterized by almost sketchy impressions and refined structures of the lithographic grid in lines and typically colorful characters, make up a charming and poetically imbued series, Wonders with Acrostic Variations in Miró’s Garden (Maravillas con Variaciones Acrósticas en el Jardín de Miró). Of course, a wealth of art and essence can be found also in the remaining works, but certainly the fourteen prints from the lithographic series, The Acid Melody (La Melodia Acid), created during the last of the 90 years of life of this great artist, conclude with meaning, feeling — and jubilance.
Joan Miró invented his own universe of artistic language and meaning, glimpses of his dream world, a realm of the unconscious, extending between a symbolic recognition of human emotions and unforgettable phantasmagorical projections, artistically abstracted to simple, child-like forms. These, woven together with words of poetic passages, mingle with signs of pure motifs: the sun, the moon and the stars… They are wholly thought out calligraphically and are set together as such in distinct relations of contrasting colors, in multiple variations of pure black, red, yellow, blue and green. Elsewhere they are refined, lithographically halftoned, abstract. And it is precisely all those tiny art elements, points, gestures, geometric shapes, colors, amazingly simple and unforgettable, that express the artistic and spiritual essence of Joan Miró.
Janez Balažic, art historian
3 – Surely his most famous oil painting from this period, The Farm (1921-1922). It was bought by his friend, the writer, Ernest Hemingway, whose fourth wife, Mary, donated it to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
12 – In terms of catalogues raisonnés, however, comprehensive insights into Miró’s prints, especially his lithographic oeuvres, are offered in a collection of six bibliophile editions: Jacques Dupin, Miró Engraver I. 1928-1960, Volume 1, Paris (Galerie Lelong) 1984; Michel Leiris, Fernand Mourlot, Joan Miró Lithographs, Volume I, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1972; Michel Leiris, Fernand Mourlot, Raymond Queneau, Joan Miró Lithographe, Volume II, 1953-1963, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1975; Joan Texidor, Miró Lithographe, Volume III, 1969-1972, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1977; Nicolas & Elena Calas, Miró Lithographe, Volume IV, 1969-1972, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1981; Patrick Cramer, Miró Lithographe, Volume V, 1972-1975, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1992; Patrick Cramer, Joan Miró Lithographe, VI, 1976-1981, Paris (Maeght Editeur) 1992.
PHOTOS: Exhibition opening
Photographs by: Biserka Sijarič, Nataša Juhnov, Sandi Baumgartner