Posts Tagged ‘Joan Miro’

Blue II- Joan Miro


The picture should be fecund. It must bring a world to birth.

-Joan Miro


This is a thought that I often keep in mind. Art succeeds when it creates its own reality, when it brings a world to birth in the mind of those who behold it. The artist’s own belief in the reality of that new world is a large determinant in whether this birth takes place.

For myself, I almost always feel like I am taken to a different world, one as real as the world I inhabit in my human skin, by whatever is on the surface before me.

That is, when it works. Sometimes it is difficult to climb into that new world and that new reality that wants to be born on the surface is nothing more than a lifeless mishmash of paint blotches and lines. That is frustrating, to say the least.

But when it works, it is an easy glide into that new world with its own atmosphere and landscape, so familiar yet new and fresh in the nose and to the eye. It’s a thrill just to be in there for that time when taking on its lifeform.

Joan Miro (1893-1983) did such a thing with such ease. I am showing his Blue triptych today. I find it interesting how intimate and alive they feel as single images on a screen where their scale fades away. These could easily be small paintings. But when you see them as they are in the two photos below, you can see their size and how it magnifies their lifeforce.

They are a world unto themselves.

Take a look for yourself. I have also included a video of Dave Brubeck’s Bluette below that is played over a slideshow of Miro’s work.

Just good stuff.



Joan Miro Blue I

Joan Miro Blue III

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What I am looking for… is an immobile movement, something which would be the equivalent of what is called the eloquence of silence, or what St. John of the Cross, I think it was, described with the term ‘mute music’.

–Joan Miro


There is much to do this morning but there’s always a time to squeeze in a little Joan Miro.

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Joan Miro, Constellations 1959


The older I get and the more I master the medium, the more I return to my earliest experiences. I think that at the end of my life I will recover all the force of my childhood.

–Joan Miro, from 1960 at age 67 


It’s the young people who interest me, and not the old dodos. If I go on working, it’s for the year 2000, and for the people of tomorrow.

–Joan Miro, from 1975 at age 82


There are two quotes here from the great Spanish painter Joan Miro (1893-1983) that really strike a chord with me. Both come from him when he was older and both speak very much to the way I feel about my own work.

In the first he speaks about gaining more mastery over the medium through the years while simultaneously moving closer to the vibrant energy that one has in their youth. I have felt the same feelings. The more one gains control over their form of expression, the more they are freed from the constraints of conscious thoughts and decisions. The work becomes reactive to the feel and emotion of the moment.

Now, I will add that with this acquired mastery there is also a new barrier erected to overcome. Well, at least, in my experience. I have found that with years of work, which is, in effect, rehearsal and practice, there is sometimes a loss of spontaneity and passion in the actual making of the marks. They become a little too precise, a little too mannered and a bit too clean and neat. They don’t have that feeling of wanting to burst off the surface. I have found ways to get past this–using bigger brushes and making strokes quicker with more urgency, for example– but every so often I will get near the end of a piece and it just feels too neat, too precise, for the underlying emotion.

It needs the innate exuberance of a child at play.

The second Miro quote, made when he was 82, speaks of painting not for those of his age but for the younger and the future generations. I certainly understand this sentiment. I am most thrilled when children react to my work, knowing then that it is speaking to the aforementioned innate exuberance.

It means I am not dealing with intellect or acquired knowledge or conscious thought. It is a pure and uninformed reaction. It means the work is communicating emotionally across and out of time.

And I think this is important because I believe most artists wants to break free from their own era, to not be consigned to any single period of time. To be known for what they were at their inner and eternal core, not where or how they were categorized in their time.

Maybe like the Miro painting at the top, a single small voice among the multitude of stars and constellations in the universe.

I don’t know but that might be my primary goal in doing what I do.

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Discovery/Joan Miro

In a picture, it should be possible to discover new things every time you see it. But you can look at a picture for a week together and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

–Joan Miro

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GC Myers- Cool FireThe works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.
Joan Miro


This new painting is a 10″ by 30″ canvas that I call Cool Fire.  It is included in my show, Part of the Plan, which opens this Saturday at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  I came across the words above from artist Joan Miro, whose work I admire very much, after I had finished this piece.

I was struck by how his words lined up with how I see this painting, especially in its juxtaposition of warmth and coolness.  It creates a tension that is similar to the actual creation of many works of art, one where the artist walks a fine line between passion and control.

I think this balance is critical in creating work that reaches out to the viewer.  Too much control and the work, while it might have great beauty, is cold and passionless.  Too much passion without little control may appear erratic and off message.

But to make these two opposing forces work together is what brings life to the work and allows it to reach out.  And I think this painting, with its equal parts of fire and self control, is a pretty good example of walking this fine line.

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Blue II- Joan Miro

When I’m painting, which is most of the time, there are occasional shifts in the work from day to day.  Sometimes they just happen without any forethought, an adding of an element here or there to change the balance of a composition or the touch of a color that may have been absent from the palette for some time. 

Then there are conscious decisions made in advance of coming work, such as the decsion ot work in a certain size or medium.  I came across some older work lately in my archives that made me make such a consious decision.  It was a group of  mainly nocturnal scenes done in deep gem-like transparent  blues.  They have a stark and moody feel and, while I always have really thought highly of them, have been out of my repertoire for some time. I’ve got to make an effort to revisit this work and see what emerges.  There’s something different in approaching a painting as an examination of  solely color rather than as harmonizing a landscape’s composition.  The focus on color seems to create its own mood and drama, one that comes across off the wall even in the starkest of compositions.
We shall see.  For now, here’s a video that speaks to the subject for me.  It’s Dave Brubeck’s Bluette played over the wondeful work of Joan Miro.  Enjoy.

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The other day I wrote in this blog about the process of painting which brought a comment about appreciating the physicality of painting in person.  It immediately brought to my mind the paintings of Joan Miro, the great Catalan painter/sculptor.

I have always been greatly attracted to his paintings having seen them countless times in books and in popular culture, such as on the cover of Dave Brubeck’s  jazz classic Take Five.  There was something very enticing about the imagery and the geometry of his work, something that that was symbolic and beautiful at once.  However, I never wanted to know too much about the paintings, never wanted to try to read into every symbol.  I just loved the way they felt on the eye.

Dark joy.

But my main memory, and the one I returned to when I read the comment about seeing the physical nature of work in person, is of seeing a Miro painting in person for the first time.  When I saw it across the museum hall, I was excited.  It was like seeing an old friend after a long time, even though I had only seen the work in print.

But as I got closer I began to feel a dull pang of disappointment.  Up close, the surfaces were flat and dull, the paint thin.  It was still striking imagery but the feel on my eye was different and I left feeling a little different about his paintings.  A feeling that has remained with me even though I rationally accept it as his style and have come to more fully appreciate it.

I suppose it was simply the difference between expectation and the reality of actually seeing the work.

As I said, I have come to terms with the way they appear up close and understand that was how he worked, how his mind best translated to his chosen media.  That’s enough for me and far outweighs my own initial expectations and reaction.

The imagery still stuns me.

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Georgia O'Keefe Ram's HeadOne of the first painters to really draw me into their work was Georgia O’Keefe.  Her colors were vibrant and crisp.  Her use of organic forms and the beauty of the curves and arcs she employed was impeccable.  Her compositions were unique and out of the box, often bisecting the picture frame in an unorthodox manner.okeefe-cow-skull

Here images were very iconographic– cow skulls, driftwood, poppies that filled the picture frame in an abstract fashion and on and on.  Her paintings were not narratives nor  were they snapshots of a particular  time.  There was an ethereal, timeless quality that makes them always feel contemporary, fresh and vital

There was also the sense of stillness and spirit that I now hope for in my own work.  Again, there is a timelessness in the work that goes beyond the moment when she created the piece.

okeefe-blue-green-musicI was also drawn to the different styles of her work- her modernist cityscapes, her abstract paintings of flowing color and form and her floral.  Her hand was always obvious in the work.   Every piece in every style has a sense of being in the present. 

There are so many elements in her work that I have absorbed over the years and incorporated in my own work that I could never fully express the appreciation and gratitude I have  for her career.

As much as I have always been drawn to her work and affected by it, there is one drawback that I first discovered a number of years ago.  I had discovered her work in books and prints, never seeing them in person.  When I first saw a show of her work, while being stunned to see the imagery up close, I was less than excited by the surfaces of her paintings.  There was a great deal of flatness and they lacked the visual oomph of the printed page.  The surfaces had no excitement of their own.okeeffe-music-pink-and-blue-ii-1919

I realize this is my own subjective feeling on the work and that many great paintings have this same lack of surface excitement.  For example, I feel the same way about the work of Joan Miro even though I am  knocked out and excited by his work.  This feeling of mine does not in amy way take away from the greatness of the work.  I just realized that while I wanted to create the same type of graphic excitement of these artists, I also wanted to create something that  had a tactile, textural effect when seen up close and in person.  To that end, I think  my work always shows better in person than in print or on a computer screen.okeefe-karsh-photo

But that doesn’t really matter today.  I just want to show the icons and forms of Georgia O’Keefe and hopefully it will spark something in someone else and they will create their own forms, their own vocabulary of imagery.  

Their own world…

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