Joan Miró

Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983)

These lithographs, executed towards the end of Miró’s life and printed posthumously, is typical of the artist’s late abstract style. During his long career, Joan Miró moved from realism towards an anthropomorphic surrealism that had at the end-point of its trajectory a gestural abstraction still hinting at a human or animal presence (such as the ‘eye’ at the focal point of the work).

Part-anthropomorphic, part-linear play, this composition combines both controlled expression and child-like spontaneity, finding a perfect balance between these two extremes. Miró’s Catalan identity is often reflected in the national colours he uses in his compositions (red, black and yellow); it is perhaps also evoked here by the kinship the composition shows with the Altamira cave paintings in Northern Spain, painted by the Magdalenian people between 16,000-9,000 BC and discovered deep in mountain recesses by archaeologist Don Marcelino.

Miró honed his graphic techniques at his friend and fellow-artist Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17, at first in Paris and then, during its ‘exile’ from Europe, in New York. Untitled (Abstract Composition) combines all of Miró’s most engaging traits as an artist: his delight in the pure whimsy of child-like expression; his ‘primitivising’ voice as old as the dawn of humanity; and his taming of that mystical, mythical beast of animism that prowls the nights of all our souls.