Joan Miró - Souvenir du Parc de Montsouris
Souvenir du Parc de Montsouris
Gouache and India ink on drawing paper with blindstamp "Qualité "ATELIER" T.L. & Co. PARIS" 50 x 65,1 cm Framed under glass. Signed 'miró' in black chalk upper right within the depiction. Signed and titled 'MIRÓ. "Souvenir du Parc de montsouris"' in brown ink verso. - Professionally restored unobtrusive tear lower right. Small marginal defects, partially professionally restored.
“Souvenir du parc du Montsouris” (1937) is a particularly intriguing sheet created during a period that was very difficult for Miró, indeed, he had been forced to leave Catalonia and take refuge in Paris only one year before, when the Spanish Civil War broke out. It is well known that these decisive experiences and his premonitions regarding the growing strength of fascism in Europe also influenced his work as an artist. However, what we have here still resembles taking a deep breath in a nocturnally enchanted garden: a little figurine on a narrow canoe rocks on the dark water and is amazed to find before him the strange movements of aquatic animals, much larger than himself - Miró identifies himself with the figure, he seems to have clearly labelled him with his signature at the top right.
Like many other drawings by Miró, this composition thrives on the contrast between the picture's coloured, soft-edged background and its black lineation. This results in diffusely dynamic green, yellow and red islands of colour whose density varies greatly and which have no definite contours - they dissolve into trace elements at some points - and, yes, there are even little dabs made with the artist's finger. In Miró's hands the motif seems to develop by chance into the illusion of a landscape with trees and pond - and with odd creatures dabbling in the wateriness. From 1935 he began giving titles to his drawings, meaning that the description, which actually sounds like a little play on words (“Montsouris”), is original and makes reference to an existing park of that name located in the south of Paris. However, the work is only a “souvenir”, a vague memory … here there is an echo of that play (familiar from Surrealism) with the “mysteriously functioning forces of the 'Unconscious' - all the way to dreams, hallucinations and trance states […]. Miró, without ever having involved himself with the theories of Sigmund Freud, was aware of his creativity's provenance in levels of consciousness that are out of our control; at the same time, however, he always placed the greatest value on control through the alert artistic consciousness.” (Werner Schmalenbach, Joan Miró: Zeichnungen aus den späten Jahren, Frankfurt 1982, p. 13). Schmalenbach additionally describes the fanciful, playful elements in Miró's work, which can also be observed in the present drawing: we could “not avoid thinking that in Miró's art - and, indeed, entirely setting aside the obvious influence of children's drawings - something of the immediacy and innocence of children has remained preserved, and this is certainly a part of the enchantment they radiate. And scarcely anyone can be found who has written about Miró without attesting to his naivety and innocence. But of course that is not everything and can only be conditionally accepted. Here there is a strange relationship between innocence and responsibility, which also defines the artist in his human gestures. Everyone who meets him is astonished at this coinciding of the childlike and an authority that has nothing naive about it at all. And so it is with his art, as well: simultaneously naive and authoritative, absorbed in itself like child's play and sure of itself like great art.” (Werner Schmalenbach, 1982, op. cit., p. 11).
There is an analogous poem by Jacques Prévert that corresponds very well to the character of the present work.
Aux Jardins de Miró
Ce n'est pas à l'Ecole des Beaux-Arbres qu'on peut apprendre à voir
L'incendie d'une forêt
Et c'est ma petite fille
Avant de s'endormir
Qui elle aussi un soir a fait sans le savoir
„J'ai des oiseaux plein les yeux
Sûrement je vais rêver d'un jardin“
Et c'était vraiment ton portrait
Ce jardin c'est le même quelque part
Que le tien.
(cited in exhib. cat. Joan Miró, Brussels/Amsterdam 1956, éditions de la connaissance, Brussels 1956)
Dupin/Lelong-Mainaud Drawings Vol. I, 762
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; Acquavella Galleries, New York; Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin/Zurich; Private collection
Berlin 2012 (Galerie Michael Haas), Joan Miró, without cat. no. with colour illus.