When he was making his series of late works that he called 'burnt and lacerated canvases', Miró would reinforce the sense of violence by making notes to himself that included comments such as 'improvise with rage', underlined in red

Stills from Francesc Catala Rocas film Miro 73 Toiles brulees showing Miro creating his Burnt Canvases 1973
Stills from Francesc Català-Roca's film Miró73. Toiles Brûlées showing Miró creating his Burnt Canvases 1973

Miró saw the productive potential of fire: ‘I love to work with fire. Fire has unforeseeable reactions. It destroys less than it transforms, it acts on what it burns with an inventive force which posesses magic. I wanted to paint with fire and by fire.’ However, he was not doing this in isolation, but in reaction to the political state of Spain at the time. As he noted: ‘The artist does not live in bliss. He is sensitive to the world, to the pulsation of his time, to the events which compel him to act. This is bound to happen. This is not an intellectual attitude but a profound feeling, something like a cry of joy which delivers you from anguish.’

Page from Triunfo magazine 8 June 1974 showing the Minister for Cultural Affairs Alain Peyrefitte walking under a Burnt Canvas with collector Aime Maeght and Joan Miro at the artists retrospective
Page from Triunfo magazine, 8 June 1974, showing the Minister for Cultural Affairs Alain Peyrefitte walking under a Burnt Canvas, with collector Aimé Maeght (centre) and Miró (right), at the artist's retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris

The series of ‘Burnt Canvases’ were first shown at the artist’s retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1974, where two of them were suspended from the ceiling so that the front and back were visible and visitors could look through the painting. We have recreated this room at Tate Modern and this is the first time since then that they are shown again in this arrangement.

Marko Daniel is co-curator of Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape at Tate Modern.



I think he wanted to show it as an inspiration: like a projection in a way that it could be seen from a different point like a tale: a figure by itself. (Once I've been to the MOMI and I'v seen that in theatre was possible to use mirrors to create ghosts with only light effects in the XIX century. But from the platea should have been like a wunderkammer or so (maybe as phantasmagorias, like the figures painted in the last roman style, closed to the ceiling, perhaps).


just not that simple though is it ,how could say a district nurse do without her car or mobile phone. Penicillin say,just as much to blame, for increasing human population! The motor industry cannot change overnight or energy provision for domestic and industrial consumption. Get down your potting sheds boffins and work on how to increase battery capacity and carbon bodied(? well I dunno)electric vehicles.Probably looking at 80-100 years before fusion so most renewables waste of time & not cost efficient.Can't just switch everything off till then.Yes tax evasion yes indeed but Bond holders now there's money.Art itself is probably not even ethical but we are not angels.



Ian Sturrock

I was at the Tate Modern on Saturday morning, and would have loved to have taken a look at the Miro exhibition, but elected to just see the freebie stuff instead (the Barlach sculpture "The Avenger" was my favourite), because of the Tate's willingness to accept money from planet-wreckers BP, and now tax evaders Vodafone too. I guess I'll stick with the freebies, in future, and avoid even buying stuff from the gallery shops. It's a pity -- I would seriously consider becoming a member, if you had anything resembling an ethical policy with regard to who you'll work with.