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“Joan Miró: Birth of the World”

(click photo for larger image) Joan Miró - Dona i Ocell - 1983 - Sculpture - 72 ft × 9.8 ft - Joan Miró Park, Barcelona Spain (click photo for larger image)

“Persistent experimentation and a lifelong flirtation with non-objectivity stamped Joan Miró's magnificent mark on the art world. His canvas represented a sandbox for his subconscious mind, out from which sprang a vigorous lust for the childlike and a manifestation of his Catalan pride.” (The Art Story)

Although Catalan artist Miró (1893-1983) is discussed elsewhere on What About Art? the current exhibit running at MoMA in New York makes this a good time for us to revisit this remarkable artist. Initially associated with Dadism—the artist is most closely associated with the Surrealists and their quest to explore emotions, visions, dreams—and the unconscious—in their visual expressions. Miró uniquely combined fantasy and abstraction in ways that explored the tensions between poetic impulses and the challenges of modern life. A man of many talents, Miró developed his own pictorial language and sense of space in works of art including paintings, lithographs, murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces.

The work featured here Dona i Ocell, "Woman and Bird") is a 72 foot high sculpture by Miró, located in the Parc Joan Miró in Barcelona, Spain. The sculpture was covered in tiles by the artist's collaborator, ceramicist Joan Gardy Artigas, and is part of an artwork trilogy commissioned from Miró to welcome visitors to Barcelona.

The work uses some of Miró's recurring themes of women and birds. In Catalan the word for a "bird" (ocell) can be used as slang for penis. This might be reflected in the phallic shape of the main form. The sculpture is decorated in primary colors and it has a vulva shaped split down the side of the shaft which is lined with blackish tiles. The idea for the sculpture is not new and examples of placing vulva on a model penis (and a hole in the glans) have been found on Roman sculpture from the second or third century. But Miró is an artist who always found a highly individualized way of interpreting resources.

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