Joan Miró



Not on display

Joan Miró 1893–1983
Etching on paper
Image: 127 × 149 mm
Purchased 1984

Display caption

Joan Miró made the small Composition at Stanley William Hayter’s famous printing studio, Atelier 17, in New York in 1947. It extends some of the artist’s earlier imagery, particularly the moon and the truncated woman. It also shows the emergence of amoebic shapes that Miró first developed on this American trip and became typical of his subsequent imagery.

Gallery label, July 2011

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Catalogue entry

Joan Miró 1893-1983

P77064 Composition 1947

Etching 127 x 149 (5 x 5 7/8) on Vélin d'Arches paper 280 x 276 (11 x 8 1/2); plate-mark 127 x 149 (5 x 5 7/8); printed at Atelier 17, New York and published by Curt Valentin to accompany the book by Michel Leiris entitled The Prints of Joan Miró in an edition of 100
Inscribed ‘81/100' below image b.l. and ‘Miró 1947' below image b.r.
Purchased from William Weston Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Lit: J. Dupin, Miró Engraver, I, Paris 1984, p.66, fig.47 (col.). Also repr: Miró Art Graphique, exh. cat., Le Musée National d'Art Occidental, Tokyo 1962, (182, repr.)

A commission to paint a mural-size work for the Plaza Hotel, now Terrace Hilton Hotel, Cincinnati, brought Miró to New York in 1947. Whilst working on this project he frequently visited Stanley William Hayter's printing studio, Atelier 17. Although the studio was known for its technical virtuosity, Miró seems to have used only the simple direct bite method in the plates he made there.

This print was included in a volume published in 1947 reproducing a set of lithographs the artist made in 1939. These had been printed in Barcelona in 1944 in a small edition of five copies (plus one each for the artist and the publisher). Whilst Miró was in New York, the American publisher Curt Valentin proposed the republication of these lithographs in a smaller format in an edition of 1,500 copies. The book contained an essay on Miró's work by Michel Leiris, a poet and friend of the artist since the 1920s.

Whilst the woman and moon in this image are familiar elements in Miró's iconography, the strong biological connotations of the amoeba-like shapes shown in this etching were a particular feature of the prints the artist made in this period in New York.

The first fifty copies of the edition contained this etching, coloured orange on grey, another state of the print in black with hand additions by the artist in several bright colours (repr. Dupin 1984, fig.48 in col.), and two stencil prints. A further fifty copies contained just this etching and the two stencil prints.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.419

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