Collection 1880s–1940s

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Joan Miró. The Birth of the World. Montroig, late summer-fall 1925 518

Oil on canvas, 8' 2 3/4" x 6' 6 3/4" (250.8 x 200 cm). Acquired through an anonymous fund, the Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Slifka and Armand G. Erpf Funds, and by gift of the artist. © 2024 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curator, Anne Umland: Miró's painting, The Birth of the World, is a combination of chance and careful planning. We know that Miró worked on this evocative, freely constructed background, and then went back to notebooks, and overlaid, in a very calculated, hard-edged, exacting way, these delineated forms: the black triangle, the red sphere, and this wonderful yellow, thin, cursive, calligraphic line that descends from what has at times been described as a balloon or a spermatozoa. This picture in every sense is about origins, a sort of genesis, a birth of a new world.

There is an utter, absolute schism between this background and then these images laid on the top of it. It is the opposite of any unified, continuous space, which is just one of the ways that this picture goes, as the Surrealists were fond of saying, beyond painting. And that is beyond the conventions of painting as they were known in 1925, when Miró painted this absolutely remarkable revolutionary work.