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Raphael, La Fornarina (1520)

 

Joan Miró, Portrait of La Fornarina (1929)

   
       
 

Miró at MoMA

   
 

Assassinating Painting! 

   

 

  

 

The current exhibit at MoMA, Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937, offers a panoramic spread of Miró's paintings, collages and collage-inspired paintings.  They are organized into twelve series of paintings that examine various themes such as Spanish dancers, Dutch interiors, Collages, Constructions and Objects, Paintings on Masonite, etc.  The series Dutch Interiors and Imaginary Portraits, painted between 1928 and 1929, takes Miró's stated quest to 'assassinate painting' and question painterly traditions to marvelous lengths.

The background of Portrait of Queen Louise of Prussia (1929) is a beautiful earthy palette of browns and ochres.  With abstract shapes that are little more than patches of dark green, red and brown, shapes that were inspired by advertisements for an engine and a shirt collar in a Catalan paper, Miró has created the small abstract figure of the Queen.  He attacks portrait painting - the high subject expressed with low language - and instead creates a marvelous composition of abstract form and color.  In Portrait of La Fornarina (1929), Miró again uses a few dark colors in fluid shapes to deliver his particular take on Raphael's original of a beautiful semi-nude woman said to be his lover and muse.  La Fornarina's black dress rises volcano-like on the canvas.  Her body spills out in rounded, simplified forms and her face is disfigured: the overall effect is wonderfully simplistic and irreverent, almost naïve.  Color divides each part of Miró's canvas: black dress, brown neck and face, darker brown hair, the whole set against a deep blue-green background.  In other paintings in the series, the human form is disfigured to comic effect, again by the clever use of color to demarcate Miró's twisted blob-like forms.

In Dutch Interiors I-III, Miró transforms realistic, naturalistic Dutch interiors with flat, bold reds, blues and yellows.  In Dutch Interior I, a white and brown dog takes on an almost cartoonish appearance - Miró worked from a postcard reproduction of Hendrick Martensz Sorgh's De Luitspeler.  In Miró's version, colors clash and seemingly leap off wall and canvas, and the result is a wonderfully vivid excitement and energy.  One of Miró's great contributions is to demonstrate that color as much as form is essential to abstract art as he wields it like a knife to attack and subvert . . . to twist and recreate….

 

See: Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937" runs through Jan. 12 at the Museum of Modern Art  

 

 

 

 

       
 

 
       
     

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