Joan Miró



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joan Miró 1893–1983
Etching on paper
Image: 277 × 195 mm
Purchased 1986

Catalogue entry

Joan Miró 1893-1983

P77138 Constellations 1959

Etching 277 x 195 (10 5/8 x 7 5/8) on Vélin d'Arches paper 442 x 362 (17 3/4 x 14 1/4); plate-mark 277 x 195 (10 5/8 x 7 5/8); watermark ‘ARCHES'; printed at l'Atelier Lacourière- Frélaut, Paris and published by Pierre Matisse to accompany the book by André Breton entitled Constellations; artist's proof aside from the edition of 50
Inscribed ‘Epreuve d'artiste' below image b.l. and ‘Miró' below image b.r.
Purchased at Christie's (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Lit: André Breton, ‘Joan Miró "Constellations"', in André Breton, Surrealism and Painting, trans. Simon Watson Taylor, Paris, 1972, pp.257-64; J. Dupin, Miró Engraver, I, Paris 1984, p.166, fig.270 (col.)

This etching was made in 1959 for a de-luxe edition of reproductions of the ‘Constellations' series of gouaches made by Miró in 1940-41.

In his preface to this edition André Breton emphasised the historical significance of the ‘Constellations'. Made during the period between the declaration of war and the occupation of France, these works symbolised, he wrote, the triumphal ‘resistance' of art and the spirit of man in the face of the menace posed by the War. Exhibited by Miró's dealer Pierre Matisse in New York in 1945, they were the first new works from Europe to be seen in America following the ending of hostilities. As such, they had a special significance for those like Breton who had spent the War years as emigrés in America. In Miró's works Breton found a sign that the traditions of free thought and artistic endeavour in Europe had survived and surmounted the disaster of the War. The exhibition of these works had been ‘a window opened wide on to all the flowering trees that the distant storm might have spared. Anyone who was present at the time will always remember the feeling that a gust of fresh air blew from these Constellations' (Breton 1972, p.264).

Hovering between whimsy and a sense of pain or fear, this image of a figure surrounded by stars was typical of the imagery of the ‘Constellations'. Three versions of this etching were pulled from the same plate: a green state of which this print is one example, a plain black state (repr. Dupin 1984, fig.269 in col.) and a black state with hand painted additions by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.419-20


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