Untitled III signed 'Miró' (lower right); numbered and dated '10/1/67/ III' (on the reverse) India ink and watercolour on Japan paper 46 x 62cm (18 1/8 x 24 7/16in). Executed on 10 January 1967
PROVENANCE Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York. Acquavella Galleries, Nevada. Galerie Larock-Granoff, Paris.
LITERATURE J. Dupin and A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné: Drawings 1960-1972, Paris, 2012, vol.III, no.1948 (illustrated p.147).
A fascination with the Arts of East Asia is apparent throughout Miró's career, explicit in the fluidity of his line and the calligraphic nature of so much of his painting and drawing. The response to Miró's works among collectors and connoisseurs in the Far East, and particularly in Japan, was similarly positive. In the summer of 1966 a major retrospective of his work was organised for the National Museums of Art in Tokyo and Kyoto, and Miró took the opportunity to make his first visit to Japan. The influence of traditional Japanese brush painting (sumi-e) is almost immediately apparent in his works on paper in this period. Long liquid forms drawn with the brush punctuated with staccato notations are backed by subdued wash tones. The formal influences of Japan are matched by technical shifts. During his visit Miró spent time studying with traditional Japanese masters, particularly potters and poets but also papermakers expert in the manufacture of washi, paper made with the fibres of the mulberry and other plants, known in the West as Japan paper.
The toughness of washi paper, the added dimension of the strands of fibre that are retained in the matrix, and the absence of sizing, all clearly attracted Miró. Small editions of his lithographs had been printed on Japan paper from the 1950s, but it is only from 1966 that he uses it with regularity for brush drawings (J. Dupin and A. Lelong-Mainaud, op. cit., no. 1868 et seq.). Throughout his career he experimented with a variety of outlandish media and supports, from animal hide and canvas sails to found objects and burnt wood, but in this suite of drawings in brush on Japan paper we see a conscious and very satisfying matching of composition and process.