Monday, June 11, 2018

Joan Miró Foundation on Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona

One of the first contemporary art museums in Spain, the Fundació Joan Miró houses one of the world's most complete collections of the artist's work and provides a comprehensive overview of the different stages in his artistic career, from the first drawings he made to the large format paintings of his later years. Located on Montjuic Hill in Barcelona and designed by Miró's good friend architect Josep Lluis Sert, ​the Foundation is a shimmering white temple to one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. With special attention given both to the human scale of the building and to the varied work of Miró, Sert designed a series of galleries ranging from large spaces for objects that need to be viewed from a distance and high-ceilinged rooms for tall paintings and hangings, to more intimate places for close-up viewing of smaller works, showcasing the Museum's permanent collection of about 220 of his paintings, 180 sculptures, as well as ceramics, textiles and graphic works and more than 8000 drawings spanning his entire life. Envisioning his artistic pursuit as a challenge to traditional painting and an assault on the bourgeois society that produced it, Miró sought to transcend easel painting by developing an increasingly simplified language of symbols, and dream images using primary colours and organic forms symbolizing reoccurring motifs such as stars, the moon, birds and women. He had a genuine sense of humour and a lively wit, which also characterized his art. "I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music." Miró also employed many of the same metaphors in his sculpture, as he did in his paintings, creating a synergy between the two bodies of work. 

Miró's work is loved for its joyful celebration of life and colour, but it also contains ideas of freedom which, in Franco's Spain, were very dear to the Catalan painter. His works during this time are particularly noteworthy due to their artistic and poetic significance, including other important pieces such as the large canvases Miró produced from the late seventies onwards, characterized by large fields of colour and free gesture. Miró liberated his work in different ways, painting with his fingers and on the floor, burning and slashing his canvases with his “Burnt Canvas” series, in later life. The Foundation's collection also includes Alexander Calder's Fountain of Mercury, which in 1937 appeared in the Paris Exhibition with Picasso's Guernica and the Catalan Harvester by Joan Miró, plus a collection of works by contemporary artists donated in homage to Joan Miró. The Fundació also devotes a wing to the Kazumasa Katsuta collection, which allows visitors to explore a dialogue between East and West, highlighting the universality of Joan Miró’s work, in addition to organizing temporary exhibitions of 20th and 21st century artists and academic activities and projects in collaboration with other institutions and organizations, such as the inspirational Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock print artist Ito Shinsui which we were fortunate to see while spending a morning in Miro's magical world in Barcelona's Parc Montjuïc.

One of the Miró’s later works is 'Personnage' from 1970, a bronze figure that sits outside the Museum and is one of his most recognizable characters

4 Wings by Alexander Calder

The Fundació Joan Miró was created by Miró himself, and is one of the most comprehensive collections of Miró’s work, offering a thorough overview of all the stages of his life and career

Woman and Bird in the Night, 1945

Miró in his studio in 1979

Pintura 1943 in a frame Miró selected for the piece

Galatea, 1976

L'Or de l'azur, 1967

The Hope of a Condemned Man' series by Miro, 1974

Double-Sided Monolith from 1956

Reverse Side of the Monolith, from the Kazumasa Katsura collection, with its obvious Asian influences

Song on a White Background from 1966

Woman encircled by a flight of birds in the night, 1968

Miró's signature has the lyricism of Japanese calligraphy

The foundation holds the greatest single collection of the artist’s work, comprising around 220 of his paintings, 180 sculptures, some textiles and more than 8000 drawings spanning his entire life

'Maig' by Miró, 1973

'Burnt Canvas 5' from 1973

'Burnt Canvas 1' from 1973

In collaboration with Catalan artist Josep Royo, Miró produced as series of large scale textile pieces  in the 1970s, which were a dialogue between painting, collage and tapestry

Alexander Calder's Mercury Fountain which he designed for the Spanish Pavilion 
at the World's Fair in Paris in 1937

'Lovers playing with almond blossom', a model for the sculptural group 
at La Défense, Paris in 1975

Miró made many whimsical sculptures made from reclaimed pieces of wood 
while working in his studio in sunny Mallorca

The Sun, the Moon and One Star (1968) on the rooftop of the Fundació Joan Miró

Itō Shinsui Exhibition at the Miro Museum

Shinsui Itō was the pseudonym of a Nihonga painter and ukiyo-e woodblock print artist in Taishō- and Shōwa-period Japan. He was one of the great names of the shin-hanga art movement, which revitalized the traditional art after it began to decline with the advent of photography in the early 20th century. His sensual, expressive depiction of bijin - beautiful young women - made him immortal. After World War II he was a publicly revered national celebrity and in 1952 the Japanese government declared the artwork of Ito Shinsui an Intangible National Treasure. In this exhibition the Fundació Joan Miró featured the work of Itō Shinsui, whose artistic and aesthetic approach reveals the subtle and deep connections between the work of Joan Miró and Japanese art and thought. 

Before a Mirror, woodblock print by Shinsui Itō in 1916

Snowstorm, woodblock print by Shinsui Itō in 1933

Digging for Shells, woodblock print by Shinsui Itō in 1936

After Washing Her Hair, woodblock print by Shinsui Itō 1936

Washing Hair, woodblock print by Shinsui Itō 1956

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