museum review - Joan Miró – Tate Modern

Detail from The Escape Ladder, 1940
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After a 50-year interlude, Joan Miró’s works come to the Tate Modern in London, in a major exhibition that invites art-lovers to take a surreal step into the artist’s imagination.

Miró (1893–1983) has long been reputed as one of the greatest Surrealist artists ever. Spanning six decades of his work, the Ladder of Escape exhibition at the Tate has 13 rooms, holding over 150 paintings, sketches, sculptures, and prints.

Acclaimed as a maverick in his time, Joan Miró refused to adhere to one set style for critics to pigeon-hole; instead he ignited the way for the painting of unreal compositions. He filled his paintings with luxuriant colour, working in a rich variety of styles.

Born in Barcelona of Catalan descent, Miró’s early art depicted his family’s farm, nature, and Catalonian peasant life. In 1921 Miró moved to Paris, where his circle of friends comprised poets and writers. Miró soon became a hit; his work was displayed in the first ever Surrealist exhibition in Paris in 1925. Known as part of Miró’s ‘poetic realism’ phase, The Farm (1921–22), one of his first great paintings, was turned down by dealers again and again, until the writer Ernest Hemingway bought it, proclaiming it a masterpiece.

Miró’s creations were more uniquely abstract than those of other artists at the time. His style evolved into bold colours painted in violent swirls of nightmarish shapes, and lines that turn into grotesque, terrified figures. Miró called this his ‘savage work’ as a response to his premonition of a catastrophe.

Miró is among the most iconic of modern artists, and the exhibition includes many of his key works that art aficionados know and love. It also shows that behind the engaging innocence of his imagery lies a profound concern for humanity and a sense of personal and national identity. Extraordinary works from different moments of his career celebrate his native Catalonian roots.

This must-see exhibition for 2011 is filled with astonishing, beautiful, and striking paintings by one of modern art’s greats. The pictures displayed in the first rooms of the Tate explore these influences. The middle of the exhibition showcases work from the Spanish Civil War years in the 1930s.

This is a rare opportunity to enjoy more than 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints from moments across the six decades of his extraordinary career.

The Joan Miró Ladder of Escape exhibition is at the Tate Modern London until September 11, 2011.


Tate Modern
Bankside, London
Tel: +44 20 7887 8888

London, England
Distance: 5,219 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: 6 flights a day

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