It was through contact with Surrealist poets and painters in Paris in the 1920s that Joan Miró evolved his visual language of signs. With curvilinear lines and biomorphic shapes, he sought to meld the realm of the unconscious to essential life forms, veering toward abstraction but always maintaining links to humanity, nature, and the cosmos.
Miró's relationship to printmaking was tentative at first, with benefit prints such as Daphnis and Chloé for the periodical Minotaure, and Woman and Dog in Front of the Moon for an association of artists in Barcelona. It was when he was introduced to the painter Louis Marcoussis, who maintained a printshop in his studio, that he took up printmaking in earnest, and his natural inclinations toward new tools and materials blossomed. His methodical working process also suited these efforts, and prints of the Black and Red Series, created there, demonstrate his systematic use of more than one copperplate and his experiments with color inking. In the example here a symbolic family group responds in terror to a monstrous head, referring to Miró's anguish over the Spanish Civil War and the fear provoked by Generalissimo Francisco Franco at that time.
Miró continued his exploration of intaglio techniques at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17 workshop in New York in the 1940s, when he was there on an extended visit. Soon after, he began his active involvement with lithography through the instigation of his Parisian dealer Aimé Maeght, making numerous individual prints, as well as posters, invitations, catalogue covers, and even holiday cards. He also turned increasingly to illustrated books, a format he had attempted earlier in his career, and created twentieth-century landmarks like À Toute épreuve, seen here. Further discoveries followed, with Miró making more than two thousand prints in all, always expanding his creativity through his love of technique and process.
Publication excerpt from Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 102.