Mir贸 Mir贸 on the wall

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has a Mir贸 exhibition on currently.

Joan Mir贸: Birth of the World
Drawn from MoMA鈥檚 unrivaled collection of Mir贸鈥檚 work, augmented by several key loans, this exhibition situates The Birth of the World in relation to other major works by the artist. It presents some 60 paintings, works on paper, prints, illustrated books, and objects鈥攎ade primarily between 1920, the year of Mir贸鈥檚 first, catalytic trip to Paris, and the early 1950s, when his unique visual language became internationally renowned鈥攖o shed new light on the development of his poetic process and pictorial universe.

A little too far for me to visit, though they have a great set of images of the exhibition. (My favourites of his aren’t to be found, however.)




Here’s a聽New Yorker article about the exhibition and the painting that gave the show its name.

Joan Mir贸鈥檚 modernism for everybody
The moma show focusses on that apotheosis with its eponymous star attraction. Mir贸 painted 鈥淭he Birth of the World鈥 in 1925, while in the company, and under the spell, of the circle of Surrealist poets and artists around Andr茅 Breton, who called Mir贸 鈥渢he most Surrealist of us all.鈥 It presents drifting pictographic elements鈥攁 black triangle, a red disk, a white disk, an odd black hook shape, and some skittery lines鈥攐n an amorphous ground of thinned grayish paint that is loosely brushed or poured and that soaks here and there into the unevenly primed canvas. The painting yields a sensation of indeterminate depth and expansiveness. It鈥檚 large鈥攎ore than eight feet high by more than six feet wide鈥攂ut feels larger: cosmic. You don鈥檛 so much look at it as fall into it. There had never been anything quite like it in painting, and it stood far apart from the formally conservative, lurid fantasizing of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and other Surrealist painters.

Reading about Miro made me think of Calder and his mobiles, so I was pleased to see the article subsequently go off in that direction.

I remember being a little confused by the relative obloquy, among art-world cognoscenti, of a related and, to my na茂ve eye, equally wonderful artist: Alexander Calder, whose mobiles had taken Mir贸鈥檚 influence to literal heights, with variations on the Catalan鈥檚 repertoire of catchy, nature-allusive forms suspended in air. But I quickly absorbed a message that I must not take Calder seriously. 鈥

Mir贸 now squares up with Calder as an entertainer allergic to portentousness and even, each in his own way, anti-modern, given to timeless, simple pleasures of recalled childhood and artisanal tinkering. Mir贸 is fun. He earns and will keep his place in our hearts, rather exactly like Calder, with abounding charm.

Joan Mir贸: Birth of the World | MoMA exhibition