AO On Site- London: Joan Miro, “The Ladder of Escape” at Tate Modern through September 11th, 2011

April 27th, 2011

All pictures by Caroline Claisse for Art Observed

Currently on view at Tate Modern is “Joan Miro: The Ladder of Escape” featuring over 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints in the first London retrospective of the renowned Surrealist artist in over fifty years. Working in a rich variety of styles, Juan Miro (1893-1983) is considered a precursor to Abstract Expressionism. He effectively combined his surrealist style with strong political views to create work which is all at once playful and socially thought-provoking.

more text and images after the jump…

Tate Director Chris Dercon, Grandson of Joan Miro, curators Marko Daniel and Matthew Gale

One of the most preeminent artists of the twentieth century, Joan Miro incorporated a language of symbols in his work that articulated his artistic vision and his profound concern for humanity and national identity. Works here, borrowed from major international collections, reflect his innocent imagery and free spirit and capture the artist’s alongside the development of his artistic career.

At “The Ladder of Escape, ” pivotal works from the artist’s career are on display. One of his earliest works ‘The Farm” (1921-2), is a vivid orange and blue rendering of a country farm which was once owned by Miro’s friend Ernest Hemingway. Other works include “Head of a Catalan Peasant” (1924-5), a painting which the artist claimed came ‘almost entirely from hallucination.’ It nevertheless now known that he carefully copied this abstract rendition of a Catalan peasant’s head wearing a red barratina hat symbolizing support for Catalan nationalism from a small preparatory drawing.

Miro worked in Barcelona and Paris and captured the political sentiments of the Spanish Civil War and the first months of the Second World War in France. Renowned works of protest include “Aidez l’Espagne” (“Help Spain”) (1937) which features a man raising a large fist in defiance and later pieces such as “May 1968” and “Burnt Canvas II” (1973), which were blackened and set fire to in response to the political restrictions in Franco’s Spain at the time of their creation.

“Our exhibition is built on new research that will offer a fresh understanding of his importance for those already familiar with his work,” said Matthew Gale, co-curator of the exhibition in a recent interview with The New York Times. “Drawing upon recent scholarship, we look at his work in a wider historical context. In focusing primarily upon the years 1918-25, 1934-41 and 1968-75, we have sought to draw out the oscillation of Miró’s sometimes uncomfortable confrontation with social and political concerns.”

Marko Daniel

Figure (1934) Woman (1934)

Portrait of Vicens Nubiola (1917)

House with Palm Tree (1918)

Painting (The catalan) (1925)

Vegetable Garden and Donkey (1918)

Burnt Canvas (1973)

Head of a Catalan Peasant (1925)

The Hope of a Condemned Man I, II (1974)

Mural Painting I Yellow-Orange, Mural Painting II Green, Mural Painting III Red (1962)

Mural Painting I Yellow-Orange

Blue I, II, III (1961)

Painting (Figures and Constellations) (1949)

Naked Woman Going Upstairs (1937)

Painting (1936)

Head (1968)

The Red Sun Gnaws at the Spider (1948)

Fireworks I, II, III (1974)

His Highness the Prince (1974), Her Majesty the Queen (1974), His Majesty the King (1974)

-R.A. Proctor

Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Tate Modern]
Juan Miro, Tate Modern, Seven Magazine Review [The Telegraph]
Miro Show at Tate Has Fanciful Blobs, Squiggles, Turds: Review [Bloomberg]                                                                                
Video: Juan Miro at the Tate Modern [The Huffington Post]
Juan Miro at Tate Modern [The Guardian]
Juan Miro, Tate Modern, London [The Independent]
Juan Miro Exhibition Comes to Tate Modern [BBC]                                                                                                                                    
A Broad Look at Miro at London’s Tate Modern
[NY Times]