Art/ 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:
© 2018 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; signed, dated, and inscribed (verso): Joan Miró / *Vers l'arc-en-ciel* / Palma de majorque / 11/III/1941
the artist (1941–45; sold in 1945 to Pierre Matisse Gallery); [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 (as "Vers l'arc en ciel").

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. "Alexander Calder, Joan Miró," October 14–November 11, 1951, no. 16.

Venice. Palazzo Centrale. "XXVII Biennale," June 19–October 17, 1954, no. 19 (as "Verso l'arcobaleno," lent by Mrs. Pierre Matisse, New York).

Paris. Berggruen et Cie. "Joan Miró: Constellations," January 20–March 1959.

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Constellations," March 17–April 11, 1959, brochure no. 15 (as "Vers l'arc-en-ciel," lent by Mrs. Pierre Matisse, New York).

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "Joan Miró," June–November 1962, no. 138 (as "Vers l'arc-en-ciel," lent by Mme Patricia Matisse, New York).

Tate Gallery, London. "Joan Miró," August 27–October 11, 1964, no. 173 (as "Towards the Rainbow," lent by Mrs. Pierre Matisse, New York).

Kunsthaus Zürich. "Joan Miró," October 31–December 6, 1964, no. 173.

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. "Joan Miró Exhibition—Japan, 1966," August 26–October 9, 1966, no. 65 (as "Toward the Rainbow, Palma," lent by Mrs. Pierre Matisse, New York).

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. "Joan Miró Exhibition—Japan, 1966," October 20–November 30, 1966, no. 65.

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.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró," October 17, 1993–January 11, 1994, no. 171 (as "Toward the Rainbow." From the Constellation series).

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, no. 31.

London. Tate Modern. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," April 14–September 11, 2011, unnumbered cat. (pl. 101; as "Vers l'arc-en-ciel [Toward the Rainbow]").

Barcelona. Fundació Joan Miró. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," October 13, 2011–March 25, 2012, unnumbered cat.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape," May 6–August 12, 2012, unnumbered cat.

New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Miró Constellations," April 20–May 26, 2017, no. 16 (as "Toward the Rainbow").

Clement Greenberg. Joan Miró. rev. ed. [1st ed., 1948]. New York, 1950, p. 132, pl. 64, calls it "Toward the Rainbow," dates it 1940, and locates it in the collection of Mrs. Patricia Echaurren, New York City.

André Breton. "Constellations de Joan Miró." L'Oeil no. 48 (December 1958), pp. 51–52, 55, ill. p. 53 (color), lists it in the collection of Mrs. Patricia Matisse, New York.

Jacques Dupin. Joan Miró: Life and Work. New York, [1962], pp. 346, 356–58, 360, 541, no. 553, ill. p. 344, lists it in the collection of Mrs. Patricia Matisse, New York.

Roland Penrose. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1964, pp. 9, 40–41, no. 173.

Renée Riese Hubert. "Miró and Breton." Yale French Studies no. 31 (1964), pp. 57, 59.

Margit Rowell. Joan Mirò: Peinture=poésie. [Paris], 1976, pp. 71, 75, 77.

Joan Teixidor. "'Constellations'." Homage to Joan Miró. Ed. G[ualtieri]. di San Lazzaro. (1st ed., Paris, 1972). New York, 1976, pp. 42, 44–45.

J. H. Matthews. The Imagery of Surrealism. Syracuse, 1977, p. 252.

Gaëtan Picon. Joan Miró: Catalan Notebooks. Unpublished Drawings and Writings. New York, 1977, ill. p. 118.

Pere Gimferrer. Miró, catalan universel. Paris, 1978, fig. 188.

Lluis Permanyer. "Revelaciones de Joan Miró sobre su obra." Gaceta Ilustrada (April 23, 1978), pp. 45–46 [English translation published in Ref. Rowell 1986, pp. 294–95].

J. H. Matthews. "André Breton and Joan Miró: 'Constellations'." Symposium 34 (Winter 1980–81), pp. 355–59, 370.

Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews. Boston, 1986, pp. 294–95.

Pere A. Serra. Miró and Mallorca. New York, 1986, fig. 53, calls it "Towards the Rainbow" and locates it in the collection of Mrs. Patricia Matisse, New York.

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. 218, 222–25, 308, ill. (color, recto and verso, 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, fig. 3 (color, installation photo, Gelman apartment).

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.

Guy Weelen. Miró. New York, 1989, pp. 120, 122, pl. 163, lists it still in the collection of Mrs. Patricia Matisse, New York.

Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1993, pp. 29, 37, 70–71, ill. p. 253 (color).

Anne Umland in Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1993, pp. 335, 337.

Lilian Tone in Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1993, p. 420, no. 171, ill.

Lilian Tone. "The Journey of Miró's Constellations." MoMA no. 15 (Autumn 1993), pp. 1–6 (on the Constellations series).

Jacques Dupin and Ariane Lelong-Mainaud. Joan Miró: Catalogue raisonné. Paintings. Vol. 2, 1931–1941. [Paris], 2000, pp. 246–47, no. 643, ill. (color).

Paul Hammond. Constellations of Miró, Breton. San Francisco, 2000, pp. 82, 224–25, no. 15, ill.

Matthew Gale in Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape. Ed. Marko Daniel and Matthew Gale. Exh. cat., Tate Modern. London, 2011, pp. 129, 232, colorpl. 101.

Jacques Dupin. Miró. [1st ed., 1993]. Paris, 2012, p. 248, fig. 277 (color) [ill. on p. 252 with caption for fig. 276].

Miguel Orozco. La Odisea de Miró y sus "Constelaciones": El pintor y sus marchantes. Madrid, [2016], pp. 129, 212, 215, 225, 249–50.



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