Art: Joan Miró at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The sculptures displayed at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park show Miró’s true breadth, his love to experiment with medium and scale, and ultimately why he remains one of Spain’s greatest artists to date.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the most unique art spaces in the country. Merely experiencing art in the fresh air of the countryside makes it all the more invigorating, but being able to spot Henry Moore’s figures lazing within a field of sheep, or rabbits feasting on the grass surrounding Barbara Hepworth’s permanent display, really make it something else.
The Joan Miró exhibition (open until 6th January 2013) is a fantastic display of some of the late Catalonian Surrealist’s sculptures and other works. Whilst his abstract paintings, with their vivid colours and bold black strokes, may be his most recognisable of works, the sculptures displayed at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park show Miró’s true breadth, his love to experiment with medium and scale, and ultimately why he remains one of Spain’s greatest artists to date.
Around the park’s beautiful gardens are many of Miró’s large-scale bronze sculptures, alongside a well-curated look at his life and works in the park’s Underground Gallery. This gallery is a brilliant space, bathing the sculptures in warm, natural light, giving them the same freedom and impact as those exhibited outside.
Miró was certainly influenced by the Surrealist movement of his day. He had a clear philosophy about art, his approach to painting in particular, which was to detract from conventional methods, in favour of a more experimental style. This ethic has translated from his paintings into his sculptures, as his three-dimensional collages, made from old shoes, toy babies and stools, amongst other items, are used to create weird and wonderful reimagining’s of the female form (Girl Escaping, 1967), interactions with animals (The Caress of a Bird, 1967), and the masculine figure (Personnage, 1974).
The artist’s main concerns seem to be with shape and movement. Whilst some works pertain to the Surrealist movement, Miró’s other, more simplistic and dramatic, works achieve something else entirely. Whilst many of these abstract works in the exhibition seem fixated on the female form, with a seductive pear drop-like shape at their centre alluding to the most defining of female features, they are in no way crude. Instead Miró’s sculptures act as a celebration of life, movement, and beauty. As he said, ‘it’s more than a sexual impulse, for me it’s something sacred. It’s not erotic. It’s like the seed of a tree that grows underground, the rain makes the seed grow and that makes a tree.’ (Interview with Georges Raillard, 1975)
The prints that hang on the walls, surrounding the sculptures effectively offset the calm of the grandeur bronze sculptures, and their smooth finishes. The bold, brash strokes, and specks of ink flicked across the pages, build up brilliantly abstract pieces, reflecting Miró’s energy and creativity. A ‘Project Space’, with sculpture prototypes, sketchbooks, and videos, gives an insight into the process of the sheer genius that is Miró.
The exhibition hosts a great range of some of Miró’s finest works. A wonderful day out, if you don’t get caught in the spring showers!
Photo: Joan Miró, ‘Personnage Gothique’ © Jonty Wilde