Femme, oiseau, étoile signed 'Miro' (lower right) oil, black ink, wax crayon and pencil on paper 104.8 x 69.7cm (41 1/4 x 27 7/16in). Executed on 19 May 1979
This work is sold with a photo-certificate of authenticity from the ADOM, dated Paris, le 2 décembre 2013.
PROVENANCE Bowles/Hopkins Gallery, San Francisco. Private collection, Melbourne.
EXHIBITED Tokyo, Lee Ce, Joan Miró, 17 May 1980 - 8 June 1980, cat. no. 74. San Francisco, Bowles/Hopkins Gallery, Miró paintings, drawings, watercolors and graphics, December 1980 - January 1981.
In the years post 1978 when Miró moved away from painting, he increasingly turned to drawing as his primary means of expression. Though he was inspired by all his materials his passion for the infinite diversity of paper was undoubtedly more enduring than all others. Throughout his career he collected all possible qualities, weights and formats from any conceivable region and location. No paper failed to excite him or to win his appreciation. From discarded printer's or butcher's paper, to the finest weave and weight, its support was to be the main vehicle for his research and experiments in these final years. As Jacques Dupin, the long-time friend and critic of the artist, observed 'More so on paper than canvas, Miró's displacements [in this period] are rapid, pushing back the limits of the territory he explored and fermented. Surveying and probing the surface. He drove his creative energy with a power of abandon and recovery which had never been so unfettered.' (J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 1993, p. 354)
Femme, oiseau, étoile is a stunning example from this final and thrilling foray in paper. Executed in May 1979 on fine quality Japanese paper, it stands over a metre tall and is immediately arresting. It pulses with a vitality and expressive force which explodes from the tantalising empty space of the sheet and reveals itself in a heady combination of dripping, spattering, scrawling and drawing. Lashings of ink and oil in the central section of the composition are delicately interlaced with scrunched, looping balls of graphite and crayon. Below, a form to the lower right teeters between figuration and abstraction as 'femme', while above Miró's familiar star is suspended in space.
Connecting the upper and lower sections is a vertical line of black dots which meander like footprints through the composition. They are in fact the delicate fingerprints of the artist who declared that by 1974 that he used his fingers to paint. Operating as the visual device which links the woman with the star, this lingering trace of the artist becomes the bird which, within Miró's personal symbolism, is the liminal creature which connects the earthly to the cosmic elements.
Femme, oiseau, étoile is a potent visual reminder of the impulsive energy which propelled its creation, and of Miró's own unrelenting quest for new and authentic modes of expression. In its diversity of media and methods of execution, the work demonstrates the contemporary artistic innovations which Miró absorbed into his later works as well as his subsequent influences on younger artists. The drips and spatterings of Femme, oiseau, étoile are distinctly reminiscent of Jackson Pollock's action paintings while the graffiti-like quality is evocative of an emerging Basquiat in the later 1970s. Indeed, Miró acknowledged a mutual exchange in his appreciation of younger artists and was publically receptive to their ideas. As Dupin explains, Miró's works 'disclose affinities with the researches of a new generation of painters. Many of these, Jackson Pollock for one, have acknowledged their debt to Miró. Miró, in turn, displays a lively interest in their work...Nor does he consider it beneath him to use their discoveries.' (J. Dupin, op. cit., p. 481).