Past Exhibition

Joan Miro: Illustrated Books

March 5 – April 24, 2005

Poetry pictorially expressed speaks its own language – Joan Miro

Perhaps more so than any other modern artist, Catalan-born Joan Miro (1893-1983) embraced the power and beauty of the illustrated book. Though known as one of the greatest talents of Surrealism and a master of twentieth-century painting, Miro possessed an artistic vision that was not strictly confined to the canvas. He frequently worked in other media and created important works in sculpture, ceramics, murals, and tapestries. Miro was also a prolific graphic artist, and the livre d’artist (artist’s book) became a major vehicle of artistic expression for him. The sheer number of illustrated books that he completed during his lifetime – over 250 titles – reveals his great enthusiasm and deep affinity for the written word.

An illustrated book can best be defined as a combination of original graphics and a significant text, often poetry, printed and arranged in book form. Unlike a traditional illustrated book in which images depict aspects of the text, the artist’s book presents text and image collaboratively and equally. The images are not meant to be “read” outright. Miro’s approach to illustrating artist’s books was not merely descriptive; rather, he interpreted a book as a visual object and abstractly and boldly proposed his own reading. Miro’s images directly evoke the spirit and rhythm of the poems through pictorial sensation.

The books in this exhibition possess the artist’s energetic and joyous spirit and reveal the continuation of Miro’s lifelong visual vocabulary. “For me,” Miro once said, “a form is never something abstract; it is always the sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something else.”

Joan Miro: Illustrated Books is curated by Robin McCarthy and organized and toured by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles. Works in this exhibition are lent courtesy of Leslie Sacks, Los Angeles.