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Mirò beyond Surrealism
The relationship between historical events and their influence on Miro's artistic production is presented as a constant throughout the artist’s career. This alluring element gives character as well as an exciting path to follow though the exhibition...


The retrospective, Joan Mirò, The ladder of escape, staged at the Tate Modern in London from April 14th , is certainly an opportunity to admire a part of the huge production of one of the most fascinating artists of the twentieth century.

While Joan Mirò (Barcellona 1894 - Palma de Mallorca, 1983) is generally recognized as a leading member of the surrealist avant-garde, the aim of the exhibition’s curators, Mark Daniel and Matthew Gale, has been to sway the idea of the artist away from the movement. Instead, they focus on highlighting the constant relationship between his artistic production that were inevitably touched by the social and political events of his time. The exhibition shows works completed through the various stages of his career, which spanned sixty years. The path that guides the visitor follows a chronological pace. Among the early works related to the homeland, The Farm (1921-22) stands out for its particular details and realistic description. The canvas is key to understanding his personal symbolism. In fact, different shapes and lines of this work are the same that will be repeated in the production that will follow. The series of emblematic figures portraying the Catalan peasant, with the traditional red cap and the pipe, celebrate the charm and recogntion of the cultural identity of Catalonia. One can follow Mirò’s Parisian experience of the 20s, through the surrealist movement, the contemporary movement and to the coup of Miguel Primo de Rivera in Spain. 


The more mature stage of his production begins to reflect in greater intensity dramatic historical events of his time, ranging from the Spanish Civil War to World War II until General Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. In his unique pictorial language, he ascends a more cryptic style of personal symbolism by different means one of which is a reduction in colour. The Metamorphosis series (1936), the great cycle of Constellations (1940-41), the Barcelona series of lithographs (1944) are a testament to his despair and unease surrounding this particular historical period. The paintings are characterized by a structure of signs that create a mutual dialogue, which generate a sense of optical illusion, and a multiplication of meaning. The dissemination of signs, this internal conversation oscillating between static and dynamic, produces a kind of exchange, a call and response of those figures between them. This is perhaps the most alluring and original aspect of Mirò’s work.


This first part of the exhibition can only captivate the viewer, and yet as they are drawn deeper into the exhibition and the paintings increase in size the level of enchantment in turn increases. In this period of his work the viewer witnesses an extreme simplification of the stroke, long lines on flat colour fields, which represent only a personal response to Abstract Expressionism.

How is history reflected in the work of a great artist like Miro’? How did awareness and susceptibility to events taking place around the great Catalan artist seep into and take the shape of his deformed and stylized figures? The exhibition sets out to examine the relationship between life and the art that acted as a filter. 

curated by martina adami

From April the 14th to September the 11th. 2011

Juan Mirò, The Ladder of Escape

Tate Modern


London SE1 9TG

Opening Hours: Everyday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Entrance Fee: £ 15,50 ; £13,50

info:  + 44 (0) 20 788 7888


Reserved Reproduction