There’s an almost mischievous playfulness that abounds in Joan Miró’s paintings. It’s scattered amongst the hints of musicality (Spanish Woman, 1974), charming cartoonish characters (Landscape, 1976 and Head, Bird, 1977), designs that would make for head turning modern graffiti tags (Women VI, 1969), and confetti cupcake-like smears (Poem to the Glory of Sparkles, 1969). Seattle Art Museum presents these bursts of life in Miró: The Experience of Seeing, the first West Coast exhibit to focus on the latter portion (1963–81) of famed 20th Century Spanish artist’s career.
The exhibit presents Miró as an artist who rejected the concept of distinct stylistic periods. The fact that Woman, Bird and Star (Homage to Picasso), the gargantuan, colorful piece that opens the exhibit, and the elegantly minimalist The Dance of the Poppies, which consists of no more than two converging black lines and three red paint splotches, were both finished in 1973 is a testament his creative versatility.
The exhibit attempts to highlight the artistic conversation between the paintings and sculptures made during this time in his life. And while a thread connecting the two exists, the impact of the bond is somewhat undercut merely because Miró’s paintings far outshine his sculptures. The conformity of worn green and brown hues of the bronze sculptures stands in stark contrast to the vibrant colors and technical diversity found in the paintings. The sculptures certainly have their own quirk, primarily derived from found objects—like doll hands and kitchen utensils—that Miró incorporated into their design, but they ultimately feel secondary to the rest of the works. The flat, two-sided nature of many of the sculptures like Figure and Bird (1968) and Low Relief (1970) even suggest that the Spaniard approached sculpture from a painter's perspective; as if the bronze was a dual canvas on which he could paint two three-dimensional images.
While Miró first gained artistic traction in the 1920s, Miró: The Experience of Seeing showcases an artist whose seemed to be enjoying himself too much to let his imagination and vitality fade as the decades passed.
Miró: The Experience of Seeing
Feb 13–May 26, Seattle Art Museum, $20