Unreal Nature

March 2, 2015

Miró’s Line

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

… ‘interrogated, sustained millimetre by millimetre, a hundred times resumed, corrected, lost, found again, like the path of an exhausting initiation.’

This is from the essay ‘ Joan Miró: The Triptychs’ by Marko Daniel found in Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape (2011):

… Whether or not the hope of the ‘man condemned to death’ includes a veiled self-reference on the part of Miró, something on which he never commented, there is ample evidence of the intensity of his engagement with this triptych. The physical evidence suggests speed: the main motif in each panel is executed as a black line that articulates the surface in a single large gesture; on each of the three panels it holds a different dynamic relationship to a single colored blotch in red, blue and yellow, executed in furious brushstrokes. These contrast with the much smaller dots of dark color that are more carefully rubbed into the canvas. Thinner drips of paint run down from the thick black lines; vertical flicks of liquid black run along the bottom and sides of the panels, and white paint that has been thrown at the canvas streams down to complete the animated dynamism of the set.

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The Hope of a Condemned Man I, 1974 [image from WikiArt]

Despite this appearance of rushed intensity, Miró’s sketches demonstrate not just the careful deliberation with which he thought through the composition of each individual work, but also the relationship between the three. Rather than the standard hierarchy of an emphatic central panel flanked by two subordinate ones or a simple linear arrangement of panels, these sketches show that he adopted a triadic relationship in which each of the canvases relates equally to the other two. The dozen small sketches he made in everything from notebooks to torn fragments of paper, starting in 1969, establish the overall composition from the start and overwhelmingly, do so not in single panels but across all three, arranged in a triangle.

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The Hope of a Condemned Man II, 1974 [image from WikiArt]

In the catalog of Miró’s restrospective at the grand Palais in 1974, where The Hope of a Condemned Man triptych was first shown, Jacques Dupin called it ‘possibly the most difficult to understand work of this exhibition and, without doubt, the most important.’ In his detailed, poetic and closely observed description he argued that its three silent panels register ‘agony, anxious waiting and imaginary escape.’ But above all he emphasized the character of Miró’s line, ‘interrogated, sustained millimetre by millimetre, a hundred times resumed, corrected, lost, found again, like the path of an exhausting initiation.’ These lines that define the central shapes of the three panels recur throughout Miró’s late painting and in themselves embody the characteristic tension between decisive action and careful deliberation that so defined his outlook on life in general.

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The Hope of a Condemned Man III, 1974 [image from WikiArt]

-Julie

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