Joan Miro The ladder of escape Tate Modern exhibition banner

Room 11

While the triptychs in adjacent spaces capture a spiritual calm, the anger of the earlier ‘savage’ paintings seems to resurface in works that Miró made at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. The student protests that erupted across Europe in 1968 carried an additional urgency in Spain as part of a wider protest against the repressive government. These events had a profound resonance for the artist, which became all the more personal as they coincided with the greater cultural freedom in Barcelona that accompanied the ‘Miró year’ celebrations of his seventy-fifth birthday.

After a major retrospective in the city in late 1968 came the alternative Miró Otro (The Other Miró) exhibition for which the artist painted directly on the windows of the Association of Architects in the city centre. The exhibition included Republican images like Aidez l’Espagne as well as the work of younger artists (including Antoni Tàpies and Manolo Millares) for whom Miró was an inspiration and an example. A subsequent and very remarkable manifestation of Miró’s continuing creative energy came with the making of the Burnt Canvases in late 1973. Their renewed challenge to orthodox ideas of painting was reinforced when they were first exhibited in Paris in 1974: two canvases were suspended in space, allowing the visitor to see through and around them.