Joan Miró (Barcelona, 1893 - Palma de Mallorca, 1983) has always been considered a painter, despite his extensive and diverse artistic output. The impact of the classes he receives from the painter Francesc Galí are key to his approaches to sculpture via the notion of the object; this point of reference, predominant in his work (also his pictorial output) is also subjected to distortions, changes in meaning and the introduction of new contexts.
The three-dimensional aspects in his work appear in 1928 with a series of object pieces; with Personaje (1931), considered his first sculptural piece completely detached from painting, pre-empts his series of bronze sculptures. However, it is not until 1944, as a result of his collaboration with the ceramicist, Josep Llorens Artigas (which results in his output of ceramics akin to modelled sculptures), that he resumes his sculptural work. After this time he leans towards sculpture based on assemblage and found objects, primarily left in their natural state, systematically merging it with bronze from the Sixties onwards.
With striking simplicity Miró playfully imparts irony, connecting with negligence, the insignificant, the sacred (but not the supernatural), placing his subjects and objects in a realm of magic and religion. His bold colours, influenced by Roman polychrome and Dalí's legacy, on occasions give way to Brutalism, highlighting the most material side of his works.
The anthological exhibition, curated by Gloria Moure, is split into five sections, one historical and four in reference to specific artistic themes: “The encounter with three-dimensions”, “Symbols and Textures”, “Sculpture and Colour”, “Monumentality and Landscape” and “Residual Shaping”. They are made up of a total of one hundred and four sculptures along with sixty unknown drawings, sketches and preparatory drawings for sculptures. The exhibition also coincides with another two large exhibits of Miró's work in 1986, one in Zurich and the other in Canada, from the Maeght Foundation's collection.
Together with sculptures featuring strong elements of light, as in Monsieur, Madame (1969), other works displayed here are dominated by the totem, for instance Personnage (1974). By and large, Miró's sculptures possess monumental intent, an implicit desire to be enlarged and exhibited in the open air. Projet pour un monument (1972) is displayed with a photomontage that expands and places the sculpture in the entrance of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía also has selected photographs, sketches and scale models of Miró's scenographic experiments for Jeux d´Enfants in 1932 (the second experiment of this kind created by Miró following his stormy collaboration with Max Ernst in Romeo and Juliet in 1926), a ballet in which a child's toys come to life in a kind of objectual bestiary; an experiment that constitutes a blueprint for explaining Miró's subsequent sculptural development.
Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (January 26 - March 29, 1987); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (April - June, 1987)