A new exhibition on Joan Miró, entitled “Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape,” has opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. I have not yet been able to see this exhibit, but having just visited the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona twice in the past month, I find the theme of this show intriguing.
“Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape” is curated by Marko Daniel and Matthew Gale (Tate Modern, London) and Teresa Montaner (Fundació Joan Miró), who claim that “the exhibition reveals a politically engaged side to Miró’s work, including his passionate response to one of the most turbulent periods in European history as well as his sense of Spanish—specifically Catalan—identity.”
The National Gallery of Art has a description of the exhibit online. The New York Times reviews the exhibit somewhat critically, questioning the notion of Miró as a politically engaged artist.
Certainly, Miró is known for his playful and whimsical figurative works depicting humans, birds, and objects. But, Miró also produced politically charged artworks during the Spanish Civil War, notably his Aidez l’Espagne print (1937) soliciting aid for the Republicans.
Miró’s El Segador (shown here) was exhibited along with Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Juli González’s La Montserrat in the Pavilion of the Republic (built by architect Josep Lluís Sert) at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition as a direct show of support of the Republican cause against Franco’s Fascists.
Whether or not this political engagement during 1936-1937 can be read into Miró’s earlier landscapes or later figurative work is debatable, but the artist indeed seems to have linked creativity, sexuality, and socialist politics with Catalan nostalgia (if not nationalism) in much of his work.
I hope to be able to visit the National Gallery of Art exhibition to consider the curators’ politicized reading of Miró’s artwork more closely.