Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Constellation: Toward the Rainbow

Artist:
Joan Miró (Spanish, Barcelona 1893–1983 Palma de Mallorca)
Date:
1941
Medium:
Gouache and oil wash on paper
Dimensions:
18 x 15 in. (45.7 x 38.1 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.53
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
In 1919, Joan Miró left his native country of Spain for France, where, along with fellow Spaniard Salvador Dalí, he became one of the pioneers of Surrealism. Inspired by the movement's engagement with psychology and poetic play with form, Miró developed a dreamlike style based on whimsical allusions to reality and lyrical, fancifully colored compositions. In May 1940, after the invading German troops disturbed Miró's quiet life in Varengeville, a village on the northern coast of France, he returned to Spain. In June he settled in the town of Palma de Mallorca, where he was to remain until the summer of 1941. In Palma, Miró resumed work on his Constellations series, which he had abandoned when he left Varengeville. "Toward the Rainbow" is the fifteenth in a series of twenty-three gouaches on paper that were produced over twenty-one months from January 1940 to September 1941. Characteristic of the works begun at the end of his stay in France and those painted in Spain, the entire sheet of paper is covered with hourglass shapes and a multitude of forms suggesting stars, eyes, circles, triangles, and crescents that are linked by thin black lines to evoke a fantastical wrought-iron screen or perhaps a magical constellation in the cosmos. Each picture took about a month to complete.


Much has been written about these Constellations, and Miró often referred to them himself. Their consistent strength, vivid colors, gaeity, and poetry provide a striking contrast with the dark period in which they were created. In fact, these gouaches seem to represent the artist's escape from the terrors of World War II. Looking back on the period in 1948, Miró told an interviewer that in France in 1939 "a new stage in my work began which had its source in music and nature. It was about the time that the war broke out. I felt a deep desire to escape. I closed myself within myself purposely. The night, music, and the stars began to play a major role in suggesting my paintings."

Inscription: Signed (bottom center): Miró
the artist (1941–45; in 1945 to Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; sold in 1945 to Patricia Kane Matisse); Patricia Kane Matisse, New York (1945–68; sold on January 5, 1968 to Gelman); Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1968–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Joan Miró: Ceramics 1944, Tempera Paintings 1940 to 1941, Lithographs 1944," January 9–February 25, 1945, no. 15.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 223).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 247).

Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo. "Joan Miró, la Colección del Centro Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne y otras colecciones," February 12–May 24, 1998 (p. 163).

London. Tate Modern. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," April 14–September 11, 2011, no. 101 (as "Vers l'arc-en-ciel).

Barcelona. Fundació Joan Miró. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," October 13, 2011–March 25, 2012, no. 101.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," May 6–August 12, 2012, no. 101.

Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 222–25, 308, ill. (color and bw).

William S. Lieberman in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 14.

Jacques Dupin in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 49.



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