Yorkshire Sculpture Park to host one of the most important exhibitions of Miro’s work to date, recognising his sculpture as a central tenet of his practice, and fulfilling his wishes that ‘sculpture must stand in the open air, in the middle of nature’
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is gearing up to stage the first major UK survey of sculpture by Joan Miro (1893-1983). The exhibition is being undertaken in collaboration with the artist’s foundations and family, who belief this to be one of the most important exhibitions of Miro’s work ever given that it will fulfil the artist’s belief that ‘sculpture must stand in the open air, in the middle of nature’. And it will provide UK visitors with the rare chance to experience a significant collection of Miro’s large-scale outdoor works, usually seen only at the artist’s foundation and estate in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.
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.
And, finally, this crucial element of his practice is to receive proper recognition in the UK, with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s purpose-built Underground Gallery playing host to Miro’s ‘phantasmagoric world of living monsters’, and tracing the evolution of sculpture as an element of Miro’s practice from 1946 through to 1982.
The survey begins with small, smooth-finished bronze sculptures such as Oiseau Solaire (1946), through to the raw bronze constructions of found objects (including mannequins, dolls, rustic vessels, discarded cans) made consistently from the 1960s onwards, to the highly-coloured, painted bronzes of the 1960s and 70s. Miro’s 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’.
Through the 1970s and into the 1980s, Miro’s work increased significantly in scale. Around this time he was completing major commissions, such as Lune, Soleil et une Etoile (Miss Chicago) 1981, located in the Brunswick Building Plaza in Chicago.
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