This weekend, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park will reveal a major exhibition of Joan Miro sculptures, making a case for the centrality of 3D work within his practice
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in collaboration with the artist’s foundations and family, is to stage the first major UK survey of sculpture by Joan Miro (1893-1983). The exhibition is to be one of the most important exhibitions of Miro’s work ever, fulfilling the artist’s dictat that ‘sculpture must stand in the open air, in the middle of nature’.
It will grant us a unique chance to see a large number of Miro’s large-scale outdoor works – usually only viewable at the artist’s foundation in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s purpose-built Underground Gallery will play host to Miro’s ‘phantasmagoric world of living monsters’, tracing the evolution of sculpture as an element of Miro’s practice from 1946 through to 1982.
It is ironic that, while primarily celebrated for his paintings, Miro in fact strove to ‘destroy painting’, and was to become an early pioneer of ‘construction’, declaring that ‘I never think about painting anymore. It’s sculpture that interests me.’ During his lifetime, Miro would produce around 600 sculptures and ceramic works, with a flurry of three-dimensional creativity coming at the later part of his career. From his initial exploration of collage and assembled sculpture around 1930, sculpture became increasingly central, most notably from the 1960s to his death in 1983.
Miro’s highly anthropomorphic sculpture reveals his surrealist impulse, each work invested with character and pervaded by a palpable feeling of fecundity. By casting everyday objects in bronze the artist demonstrated his insistence that his work must engage with something real and recognisable – ‘free of tricks or grandiloquence, a direct art’.
The survey at the Sculpture Park will begin with Miro’s early small, smooth-finished bronze sculptures such as Oiseau Solaire (1946). We will then be presented with the raw bronze constructions of found objects (including mannequins, dolls, rustic vessels, discarded cans) made consistently from the 1960s onwards, followed by the highly-coloured, painted bronzes of the 1960s and 70s. Finally, we are to bear witness his significant increase in scale in the late 70s, and 1980s, creating monumental works that dwarf the viewer.
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