Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927–1937

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Joan Miró
Still Life with Old Shoe
Paris, January 24–May 29, 1937

Joan Miró. Still Life with Old Shoe. Paris, January 24-May 29, 1937

Oil on canvas, 32 x 46" (81.3 x 116.8 cm). Gift of James Thrall Soby. © 2018 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curator, Anne Umland: Miró titled this painting Still Life With Old Shoe. He painted it over a four-month period in Paris early in 1937. Miró had, by this point, realized that he was going to have to remain in France and live in exile, because of his Republican sympathies. And, because of this, he decided to do something completely different. He was going to return to working from life, meaning from direct observation of the model, in a very traditional sense.

His subjects were an old shoe, as you see in the right-hand corner, a crust of bread, a bottle, a desiccated apple on the left, and a fork. But of course, Miró, once again, takes tradition and turns it on its head, creating this picture that resists any sort of easy classification. It's a still-life, but that also reads as a landscape with a horizon line. It has these broad, black, opaque shapes that read as both flat and as voids, or rips, in the field, coupled with these shaded, palpably rendered still-life elements that have an animated dimension, irradiated with the psychedelic …this almost acidic extremely dissonant color palette. He has created a still-life that is an aesthetic battlefield. All of the disjunctions and the disunities, the different types of work that Miró has created in this period covered by the exhibition, comes together in this work.