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Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman

A work made of opaque watercolor with watercolor washes on ivory, rough textured wove paper.
© 2018 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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  • A work made of opaque watercolor with watercolor washes on ivory, rough textured wove paper.

Date:

1941

Artist:

Joan Miró
Spanish, 1893-1983

About this artwork

Joan Miró was one of the pioneers of Surrealism. By engaging with contemporary psychology and especially theories of the subconscious, and playing with form, he developed a style based on whimsical allusions to reality and lyrical, fancifully colored compositions. In January 1940, he began a series of twenty-three works on paper that later became known as The Constellations, of which this is an example. Composed on identically sized sheets of paper over twenty-one months, this remarkably poetic suite was created from January 1940 to September 1941, under the duress of World War II, when Miró and his family moved from France to his native Spain to avoid the advance of the Nazis. About the “Constellations” he stated: “If the interplay of lines and colors does not expose the inner drama of the creator, then it is nothing more than bourgeois entertainment. The forms expressed by an individual who is part of society must reveal the movement of a soul trying to escape the reality of the present… . in order to approach new realities, to offer men the possibility of rising above the present.”

Miró chose a stiff, textured watercolor paper for the series, and began each sheet by sanding the surface, then rubbing his freshly cleaned oil paint brushes over the paper, sometimes blending it with thinned gouache so that the two incompatible liquids created diaphanous, cloud-like pools. In these suggestive fields, he constructed his visual story, covering the sheet with hourglass shapes and a multitude of forms suggesting crescents, eyes, stars, and triangles, linked by thin black lines to evoke an imaginary celestial world. Each picture took about a month to complete, demonstrating his intense engagement with the images. Miró titled the works as if each were a poem, and the background suggests night and day, alternately, evoking imaginary atmospheres, and characters in space.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Prints and Drawings

Artist

Joan Miró

Title

Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman

Place

Spain (Object made in)

Date

1941

Medium

Opaque watercolor with watercolor washes on ivory, rough textured wove paper

Inscriptions

Signed recto, bottom center, in gouache: "Miró"; inscribed verso: “Joan Miró / Chiffres et constellations amoureux / d’une femme / Palma de Majorque / 12 VI 1941”

Dimensions

459 × 380 mm

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman

Reference Number

1953.338

Copyright

© 2018 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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