The Gaudi series by Joan Miró “The manifesto of a life”

Yoyo Maeght, exhibition curator and granddaughter of Aimé Maeght, whose famous foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence was the refuge of the greatest post-war artists, draws here the portrait of a creative Miro enthusiastic 85 year old. With the complicity of Joan Barbarà he recorded the series Gaudí , which the museum preserves in its entirety “ More than prints, she explains. A manifest. »

Yoyo Maeght and Joan Miró at the Maeght Foundation in July 1966

One summer in 1966, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, I was 7 years old then, I was walking in the wonderful garden of my grandfather, Aimé Maeght, alongside Miró He leans towards a twisted tomato, he scrutinizes it, shows me its beauty, picks it, this misshapen tomato will be remade in bronze by Miró and will symbolize woman and fertility in one of his sculptures.

Miró's links with Aimé Maeght date from 1946, a year after the opening of his gallery: my grandfather entrusted him in 1947 with the design of the poster for the "international exhibition of surrealism", an original, technical lithograph which the Spaniard mastered perfectly. From this first collaboration, the understanding, I would even say the complicity between the two men is perfect despite the thirteen years that separate them. A Joan Miró exhibition is immediately scheduled by Aimé Maeght, it will be accompanied by the publication of a Behind The Mirror , large booklet bringing together lithographic creations by Miró and original texts by Tzara, Hemingway, Eluard, Queneau, Desnos, Leiris.

It is in the instinctive love of art that Aimé Maeght and Joan Miró are most complicit. Aimé’s words attest to this, as in this interview given to Pierre Dumayet: “Miró works like a medium. He has this ability, precisely, to close a door or close a drawer, he closes his memory and, there, he is like a child. He rediscovers this ingenuity, so much so that when he made the painting he calls Decoration for the cell of a condemned man , it is a huge painting where there is only one line which starts at the bottom left and which goes up with all these modulations. It's a single trait..."

Joan Miro - Gaudí Series, Gaudi XX -1975/79 engraving 94.5 x 78.5 cm - Purchase City of Castres with the help of the State and the Region, 2003

Miró was 85 years old when he “attacked” the series and it was with the strength of a young man that he set about the task.

Aimé Maeght and Joan Miró at the Maeght Foundation, 1968.

Miró will be an ardent defender of the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. Once the Francoists were victorious, he would no longer exhibit in Spain. When Franco, weakened, gave up part of his power in 1973, it was for Miró the sign that he could finally return to his country. He is 80 years old. Aimé Maeght then decided, with panache, to install an immense Maeght Gallery, much larger than the one in Paris, in two Gothic palaces in the Barrio Gótico, a disreputable neighborhood. The opening dinner takes place under the pillars of Pare Güell, designed by the Catalan architect so admired by Miró, Antoni Gaudi, considered degenerate by Franco's power...

What do these Catalans have in common? Without hesitation, both draw their inspiration from nature, plants and living things. With his entry into the Maeght Gallery in 1947, Joan Miró had all the tools necessary for creation. In Paris, a foundry for its bronzes and a large reserved space within the ARTE printing house where all the techniques are practiced.

In Tarragona, Spain, a factory allows him to create his monumental tapestries.

In Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a ceramic workshop and presses welcome him every year. It was with Joan Barbarà that Miró rediscovered in Spain the magical smell of inks and the singing sound of the intaglio presses. The friendship between the artist and the engraver was born in Paris thanks to the book A foolproof , by Paul Éluard, containing one hundred xylographs by Miró, printed in 1958 by Joan Barbarà, genius craftsman, printer, engraver but also artist Barbara puts her technique and her brand new workshop in Barcelona at the service of Aimé Maeght, Miró must and wants to “strike a big blow”, as he likes to say.

Aimé gives them complete freedom, so the two Joans mix, modify, adapt or develop the printing techniques: etching, aquatint, carborundum, drypoint, glazing, collage, these two technicians know how to free themselves from conventional processes . Miró was 85 years old when he “attacked” the series and it was with the strength of a young man that he set about the task.

“I work like a gardener”, the phrase finds its full meaning here. Here they are in sunny Palma, where they worked on the series Gaudi in the beautiful workshop designed for Miró in 1956 by another Catalan genius, Josep Lluís Sert. Miró has been sowing and deploying his Eden for decades. Time has worked, it can reap.

For me, the series Gaudi is much more than a set of engravings in the chronology of Miró's prints, it is a manifesto. The manifesto of a life with its chapters: youth wonder, Freedom.

Yoyo Maeght

Joan Miró - Gaudi Series, Gaudi XVII - 1975/79. Engraving, 944.5 x 78.5 cm - Purchase City of Castres and friends of museums 2022

Find the article in the fine arts magazine “musée Goya Castres”