Joan Miro The ladder of escape Tate Modern exhibition banner

Introduction

Joan Miró was the most astonishing of twentieth-century artists. André Breton, the leader of the Surrealists, called him ‘the most surreal of us all’, acknowledging his unique and consistently inventive imagination. Over a period of sixty years, from the lyrical dream paintings of the 1920s onward, he produced work that served to inspire younger writers, painters and the public alike, testifying to his sensitivity to the world around him.

As well as gathering some of Miró’s most significant works, Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape shows that his tendency towards contemplative withdrawal sat alongside a consistent awareness of events. Miró lived through turbulent times and he was not immune to their impact. Despite his instinct for getting away, he acknowledged that there ‘is no ivory tower’; the ladder of escape – one of his most frequently used titles – must be rooted in reality in order to lead to creativity.

This exhibition examines moments across Miró’s very long career that reveal his engagement with his times. The first rooms explore his commitment to his native Catalonia, especially to the family farm at Mont-roig, but also how this was inflected by his time in Paris and the creative liberation of Surrealism. In the middle section, the terrifying years of the Spanish Civil War are reflected in Miró’s new pictorial language. The final section looks at the last years of Franco’s rule, when Miró’s ambition to make monumental paintings of great contemplative impact was set against his awareness of the disruptive power of more violent pictorial means.

Exhibition created in collaboration with Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, in association with National Gallery of Art, Washington

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape is curated by Marko Daniel, Convenor: Adult Programmes, Tate Learning, Matthew Gale, Head of Displays, Tate Modern, Kerryn Greenberg, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern, and Teresa Montaner, Curator, Fundació Joan Miró.

Initiated by Vicente Todoli, former Director, Tate Modern