‘A kaleidoscopic game of infinite possibilities’ — was how French writer Michel Leiris described the art created by his friend, Joan Miró. If the Spanish artist is remembered principally as a painter, it’s worth pointing out that his artistic curiosity wasn’t satisfied by oil on canvas alone. Over his seven-decade career, he also worked in sculpture, ceramics, tapestry and, most prolifically, prints, becoming one of the most important printmakers of the 20th Century.
Joan Miró: Works from Album 19
8th March - 5th April 2022
Claimed as a Fauvist, a Surrealist, Expressionist, and a Magical Realist, the Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró has had an enormous influence on the work of several generations of succeeding artists. His lyrical and ebullient pictorial language drew from archaic sources, as well as the drawings of children and contemporary art movements. Miró developed a sophisticated system of symbols and icons in his work, which endured over several decades.
These works from 1961 are from Miró’s acclaimed portfolio, Album 19 published by Galerie Maeght, Paris. The works invoke Miró’s semi abstract shapes, amoebic forms and dream-like imagery. Like Pablo Picasso, his compatriot and peer, Joan Miró had an unwavering commitment to printmaking and created more then 2,000 works in the medium. It’s often thought that Miró’s fondness for calligraphic lines lent itself naturally to graphic work.
It was during the artistic fervour of 1920’s Paris that Miró first experimented with printmaking, developing close working relationships with masters of printing ateliers. His continuous experimentation with printmaking techniques throughout his career such as drypoint, etching and aquatint can be traced alongside his development of imagery from the delicate wiry lines in his more figurative earlier works to the much more abstracted simplified and stylised forms of his later works.
“A form gives me an idea, this idea evokes another form, and everything culminates in figures, animals, and things I had no way of foreseeing in advance”.
– Joan Miró
Miró was a key practitioner of the Surrealist idea of ‘automatism’- inspiration directly from the unconscious, which the artist would be impelled to transfer to paper. Miró would often replicate forms, making extensive use of found images, fragments of words or earlier sketches as the starting point for a work, carrying a small notebook in which he would fix any form that came to mind.
These sketches, cut-out images and bits of text would be used to establish the composition, which he would keep beside him whilst making a print, in order not to lose contact with the original inspiration. This allowed the marks he made to dictate both the formation of an image and the direction for the next work. This process was effectively his own kind of automatism, feeding off everything and anything in his surrounding environment.
“The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I am overwhelmed when I see a crescent moon or the sun in an immense sky. In my works there are often tiny forms in vast empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains – everything that has been stripped bare has always made a strong impression on me”.
– Joan Miró