Girl Escaping, The Caress of a Bird and Other Playful Creations by Joan Miró

This is a virtual escape into the vibrant universe of Joan Miró. I used to go often to the Foundation, as I am fascinated with his work. Besides, the pass is not expensive – €13 for a full year.

Joan Miro Foundation The sun the moon and one star sculpture and Barcelona views

From its position on the Monjuic hill, halfway between the castle and the city, the Joan Miró Foundation with its outdoor spaces is also a place to see Barcelona from above.

Joan Miro Foundation upper terrace

The upper terrace is my favourite, not only because it’s surrounded by vegetation, but also because it’s where some of the most playful artworks are on display.

A Tour of the Terrace

Joan Miro Girl escaping sculpture

I didn’t know much about this side of Miró’s work before, and the playful sense of humour of his creations added much to my ever-since growing fascination for his three-dimensional visions. He used the main symbols of his paintings to describe women, sun, moon, or birds, and his saturated shades of yellow, red, blue and black, inspired by the Mediterranean landscape and climate, dominate. To all this, something unexpected adds: the use of found objects, from stones to straw hats and from taps to chairs, which made his close friend, Catalan art promoter Joan Prats, say:

When I take a stone, it is just a stone. When Miró grabs a stone, it is a Miró.

Joan Miro girl escaping sculpture
Girl escaping, 1967, painted bronze. The tap from a pump where grandson of Miró, Joan Punyet, remembers drawing water from a well, is repurposed into bright-red headgear.

Joan Miró, according to what I’ve been reading (see sources at the end of post) first explored three-dimensional objects in the late 1920s and early 1930 when, inspired by surrealism, he spontaneously combined everyday objects into a series of unique constructions and peinture objects. In 1945 he found a new direction that would fuel his sculptural practice and further root his creations into the natural world. One day while walking near his summer house in Mont-roig, he came across a rock which he reimagined as a head and had it cast in bronze.

Joan Miro Sir madam sculpture
Sir, Madam, 1969, painted bronze. The stools look like they’re made of wood but they aren’t. Everything is made of bronze. If you didn’t know the title of the work, you’d probably think they are just two stools but when you hear the name you might think – oh, so these are stools of this size and colours. One of the main reasons I like Miró’s creations is because you can think up your own story for them.

“Transforming the meaning of everyday materials and finding magic in the elements of life shows his poetic soul.” Joan Punyet Miró

Joan Miro The caress of a bird sculpture
The Caress of a bird (1967) is over 3 metres tall and over 1 metre wide, but only 38 cm deep. It is constructed from bronze, disguised by the use of bright paint. The found objects cast in bronze include an outhouse seat and an ironing board for the body and legs, and a pair of miniature soccer balls at the back, representing the female buttocks. The head is a donkey’s straw hat whilst the turtle shell represents the female genitals.

Miró began imaginatively combining his found objects with clay modeling to create assemblages, transforming the elements into poetic and suggestive sculptures that would be later cast in bronze. For several years in the 1950s he stopped painting, working on paper and in ceramics. His late works include mixed media paintings, prints and ceramics, and over three hundred bronzes, created between 1966 and his death in 1983.

Joan Miro Woman and bird sculpture
Woman and bird, 1967, painted bronze, 120 by 48 by 45 cm. “What are these figures of Miró that stand before us? Difficult to identify, despite their affirmation and because of their intensity. They cannot be pinned down to categories or catalogues. Neither men nor beasts, nor monsters nor intermediate creatures, but with something of all these. Of what “elsewhere” are they native, from what regions of the fantastic have they traveled? Their aggressive presence is a blend of the grotesque and the incongruous, of predatory fascination and the artlessness of a primitive game.” (Jacques Dupin, Miró as a sculptor)

Joan Miro Seated woman and child sculpture
Seated woman and child, 1967. The chair is a found object, and can be read either as a sturdy perch for an owl-like creature balanced on its top rung and keeping a watchful eye on its small red “baby” below, or as the torso of a woman. In the latter case, the flat plaque at the top becomes the woman’s head and the egg-like baby now sits in her lap.

The Building

Joan Miro Foundation terrace

Fundació Joan Miró was designed by architect and city planner Josep Lluís Sert (1902-1983), close friend of Joan Miró and an exponent of avant-garde architecture in Catalonia as one of the founders of GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture).

Joan Miro Foundation interior patio

The main motif is a quarter of vault placed on the roof , and repeated time and time again like a wave, with the vertical surfaces that closing the vault replaced with glass, and turning into a skylight.

Joan Miro Foundation entrance

Although from the outside the effect is that of a wave, from the inside the light doesn’t pour in from the top down, but sideways, bouncing off the white interior of the quarter-vault and spreading almost atmospherically into all the corners of the space. The sunlight effect is undeniable still the hidden source of daylight generates a climate of mystery.

Joan Miro Foundation interior

Architecture today has to be more functional and cannot exist without a sense of artistic values. Without them, we would produce buildings, but not architecture. Josep Lluís Sert

Sources: | | | |

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