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Most comprehensive exhibition of Joan Miró's work ever seen in Spain opens in Barcelona
A woman looks at a painting, entitled Blue II, by Spanish artist Joan Miro, at the Miro Foundation premises in Barcelona, Spain. The artwork presented in a Miro exhibition, entitled La Escalera de la Evasion (The Escape's Ladder), that was inaugurated in Barcelona the same day; The exhibit runs until 18 March 2012. EPA/ANDREU DALMAU.

BARCELONA.- The Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, presents Joan Miró. The Ladder of Escape, the most comprehensive exhibition of Joan Miró’s work to be seen in Spain in the last twenty years. The selection emphasises the artist’s commitment to his time and his country.

Featuring over 170 works, including paintings, sculptures and works on paper, drawn from public and private collections around the world, the exhibition has been organised jointly by Tate Modern, London, and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, and sponsored by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Ajuntament de Barcelona and the Fundación BBVA.

Joan Miró. The Ladder of Escape has been conceived by Tate Modern curators, Matthew Gale and Marko Daniel, in collaboration with Teresa Montaner, curator at the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. Rosa Maria Malet, Director of the Fundació Joan Miró, and Vicent Todolí, ex-director of Tate Modern, have directed the project.

Joan Miró (Barcelona 1893 – Palma de Mallorca 1983) was one of the most significant artists of his time. He developed a Surrealist language of symbols that suggest a feeling of freedom and energy through his use of brilliant colour and his fantastic imaginary. Often seen as the precursor of Abstract Expressionism, his work is admired for its serene and colourist spirit.

But Miró lived through turbulent times and this exhibition – as well as presenting some of the most significant works, difficult to bring together in a unique show – examines the key moments in the artist’s trajectory and emphasises his commitment to his time and his country.

The first rooms explore the links between Miró and his native Catalonia, especially the land around Mont-roig and his family farmhouse, and also the turning point in his career brought about by his stay in Paris and the creative liberation of Surrealism. This is the moment when he painted The Farm, 1921–22, which belonged to Miró’s friend Ernest Hemingway, and the masterful series Head of a Catalan Peasant, 1924–25.

In the middle section, the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War is reflected in the artist’s new pictorial language. The tensions that led to the conflict provoked Miró’s most explicit demonstrations of protest in works such as the series Savage Paintings, 1934–36, and Still Life with Old Shoe, 1937. While in exile in Paris, Miró received two commissions from the Spanish Republican Government: the stamp Aidez l’Espagne, and the mural painting The Reaper (Catalan Peasant in Revolt), 1937, for the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition, where it was shown next to Picasso’s Guernica. The outbreak of the Second World War provoked more intimate reactions such as the famous Constellations series, realised from 1940 to 1941, and the more disturbing Barcelona Series, 1944, Miró’s plastic comment on the Civil War.

The final section examines the last years of Franco’s dictatorship, when the monumental paintings of great contemplative impact are contrasted with Miró’s awareness of the disturbing power of more violent pictorial means. During the Franco regime, Miró worked in a kind of internal exile in Spain, while his reputation was consolidated abroad. Joan Miró. The Ladder of Escape shows key works from this period, such as the triptych Hope of a Condemned Man, 1974. By darkening or even burning the paintings, such as in the case of May 1968, 1968–73, and the Burnt Canvases series, 1974, Miró was able to convey the air of rebellion of the late sixties, and testify to the political climate with explosions of paint, such as in the Fireworks triptych, 1974, while always expressing himself in a radical, innovative manner.

Joan Miró. The Ladder of Escape is a revision of a period of nearly sixty years. It testifies to Miró’s sensibility and his reaction to the events that marked the history of the twentieth century.

Joan Miró. The Ladder of Escape was previously seen at Tate Modern, London, where it was visited by 303,000 people. After its presentation in Barcelona, it will tour to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, where it can be seen until May 2012.

Fundacio Joan Miro | exhibition |

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