For me, a form is never something abstract; it is always a sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something. For me painting is never form for form’s sake.
Femme au Miroir (1956) survives as one of master artist, Joan Miró’s, most significant and symphonic works. The piece remains the quintessential example of Miró’s brilliant use of primary colors and bold forms. In Femme au Miroir, the artist embraces his unique stylistic choices and conveys a certain childlike quality while demonstrating his grasp of various printing techniques. Here, Miró breaks free of convention and defines his own artistic narrative. Miró’s inventive and iconic style is best described by Ferrand Mourlotin Joan Miró Lithographs Volume I (1972),
The pitch-black background of Femme au Miroircreates a striking contrast with the vibrant shapes and symbols that dominate the foreground. In Miró’s work from this period, the color black is widely accepted to symbolize earthly qualities such as rebirth and fertility. In consideration of this, the main area of action in Femme au Miroiroccurs around the central-axis of the composition—an abstract figure reminiscent of a bird towards the left, and its opposite: a large, red oval that recalls the shape of an egg encased in a black box. These motifs are enclosed in a stylized blue rectangle that, in many ways, appears to represent a body of water. However, blue is also widely regarded as a symbol of spiritual purity and the cosmic night, perhaps suggesting that Miró’s rectangle represents purity or the night sky.
Arguably, the most striking colors within the blue rectangle are red and black. However, while red, the color of passion, strength, romance and excitement largely commands the piece, Miró includes touches of soft green, yellow and white—primarily used to color the peculiar, amphibious creatures which lurk around the perimeter of the enclosed area. Accordingly,yellow and green occupy a rather optimistic space in Miró’s oeuvre and represent nature, the vivacity of life, sunshine and enlightenment. Although Miró’s use of color is of great importance to understanding the profound symbolism that characterizes much of his work, the true meaning of Femme au Miroircannot be revealed through summary and rather, must be felt. The artist’s sensitivity to detail and faculty of observation (and adaptation) in Femme au Miroirultimately captures the beauty of art itself—providing viewers with the space to interpret it however they wish.
Femme au Miroir belongs to Miró’s post-war work, which revealed his shifting focus towards subjects such as birds and the moon—motifs which would dominate his artistic iconography for the remainder of his career. During the latter part of his life, the artist’s whimsical use of color and free play with form exemplify the bold stylistic choices that ultimately shaped his legacy. As demonstrated by Femme au Miroir, Miró invented a new kind of pictorial space adorned with objects of the artist’s imagination rendered in basic, often recognizable forms. Furthermore, the exclusivity of his palette during this time was risky,but intended to highlight the vibrant, expressive hues with which he worked—a technique that continues to be admired by contemporary viewers across the globe. Galerie Michael is thrilled to present Femme au Miroir, a masterpiece worthy of a private museum quality collection, to collectors worldwide.