Hello, my name is Matthew Gale and I am one of the team curating Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, which will open at Tate Modern on 14 April. This will be the first exhibition of Miró’s work in London for almost 50 years!
For us, it’s an important opportunity to look again at one of the most important artists of the 20th century and we hope that it will be a revelation to all of our visitors, including those of you who know Miró’s work so well.
When works by Miró that we plan to have in the exhibition start coming off display in their respective museums and galleries around the world, you know that things are really getting serious. This may seem a slightly odd thought but, like any major journey, preparation is crucial. With our partners at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, we have been planning Tate Modern Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape for years.
The exhibition will begin with works Miró made when he was just 24 years old, and will end with works he made in his eighties. He had a long career and was immensely prolific. Through this blog we will share stories about his life and art, reveal new research and explore some of the works in the show in detail.
Although the exhibition spans almost six decades it is actually very focused, and the sub-title The Ladder of Escape is deliberate. We know that some of the very greatest of his works must be seen again. So the exhibition includes The Farm, his early masterpiece in which he made a really detailed depiction of the house in the country where he painted each year. (More about this painting in next week’s blog). And, from late in his career, it includes such astonishing works as the huge triptych Hope of a Condemned Man which is wonderfully subtle (like the Japanese calligraphy that Miró admired) but also, as the title indicates, an object for contemplation.
The exhibition traces how Miró’s immersion in issues of Catalan identity and politics emerged early-on and met the challenge of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. It will also pick up on these threads as they surfaced again in the works of the 1960s and 1970s, when self-examination parallels the final years of Franco’s regime in Spain. Miró’s work oscillated between passionate commitment and contemplative withdrawal, and it is this tension that lies at the heart of Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape.
Matthew Gale is head of displays at Tate Modern and co-curator of Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape.