Joan Miró 1917–1934: I'm Going to Smash their Guitar

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9781903470220: Joan Miró 1917–1934: I'm Going to Smash their Guitar
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This study of the crucial formative period of Miró's art – from 1917 to 1934, from his first emergence in the avant-garde of Barcelona and Paris to his acclaim by the Surrealists as a modern master – concentrates on the sometimes painful, sometimes ecstatic processes of his early development, working either in Paris or in the seclusion of his farm at Montroig in Catalonia.

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Starred Review. The popular image of Miró may portray him as a childlike creator of whimsical doodles, but this hulking slab of a coffee table book, published in conjunction with an exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, brilliantly restores Miró’s violence and thorny intellectualism. Covering the 17-year period during which, as Bruno Racine writes, "the artist’s visual language had time enough to develop but not to become formulaic," the book takes its title from a comment the artist made about Cubism. The guitar in question stood for all that had become stereotypical about that style. But Miró’s iconoclasm, the book makes clear, extended even to his own ambitions, and to art itself. As he once remarked, his goal was to "murder painting." In the most interesting of the book’s six densely argued essays (written by assorted intellectuals from both sides of the Atlantic), Rémi Labrusse explores the aesthetic of destruction that took hold in Europe after WWI, while making it clear that Miró himself never gave in to a fashionable nihilism: "Whereas Dada sought to do nothing, Miró was led to a terrible contempt for something he still actually did." In addition to the essays, the book includes an exhaustive chronology, but the real heart of the volume lies in its rich, full-color reproductions of Miró’s works. The 231 illustrations showcase mostly paintings, including such famous works as "Harlequin’s Carnival" and "The Siesta," but a few of Miró’s relief-sculptures also appear and, in keeping with the book’s focus on the raw and the formative, there are plenty of sketches and studies. Though the price is high, if you can afford it, this is the Miró book to get. The dazzling quality of the reproductions and the new interpretive frame supplied by the book’s authors allow Miró’s odd genius to blaze with greater depth, sharper edges and darker shadows than are usually seen.
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