How to Keep Existing in Times of Trouble: Joan Miró's Writings of the Early Forties

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How can an artist survive in times of trouble? When the external circumstances are such that working is no longer possible? When the risk of not being allowed to create for the rest of one’s life suddenly comes into consideration? During the Second World War, Catalan artist Joan Miró saw himself in a contextual situation very much like the one we have just described. His notebooks of the period are a poignant testimony of a painter’s determination to continue to exist internally as an artist amidst a period of external crisis. In our work, we will focus on one of Miró’s most representative notebooks of the early forties – notebook FJM 1323-1411 – in order to demonstrate how written expression became for this artist an empowering strategic instrument of creative and reflective thinking in times of intense difficulty. Notebook FJM 1232-1411 was begun in the mid-thirties, and it contains preliminary studies for canvases projects Miró had to abandon in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War forced him and his family into exile in France. The extensive written notes that constitute our object of study were taken upon Miró’s return to Spain, and range from approximately 1940-1941. In their dynamics of reviewing and gradually moving beyond the mid-thirties preparatory drawings, these notes function as a link between Miró’s work previous to the war and the oeuvre he was preparing to pursue in the future. Three of the mid-thirties projects he reflects upon – The Harbor; Spanish Dancer; The Bullfight – will be carried on when he returns to painting in 1944-1945, and figure among the first large canvases painted in this new beginning.

Keywords: Joan Miró (1893-1983), Painting, Notebooks, Genetic Criticism
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: How to Keep Existing in Times of Trouble

Dr. Clio Meurer

Researcher, Grupo de pesquisa em processos de criação
Linha de pesquisa: Teorias do processo, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo

São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Clio Meurer received her doctorate in Histoire et Sémiologie du Texte et de l’Image from the University of Paris VII (Université Paris Diderot) in 2008. Her thesis, entitled “Joan Miró, René Magritte: Écriture et Création Picturale”, was awarded the distinction “Très honorable avec les félicitations du jury”.

Ref: A09P0697