Sunday, April 26, 2009

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Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937 Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937 by Jim Coddington

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Joan Miro undoubtedly changed painting. He re-visualized space for us, recombining colors and non-colors, adding matter to the surface, add contorsion and torsion, with grace and a new aesthetics. I am not familiar enough with the timelines of development in painting. In any case Joan Miro reinterpreted and "assassinated" illusion, perspective, central image, re-shaped the relationship between viewer and canvass or surface of the artwork in a way that predates Picasso. (Picasso in the last years of his life interpreted "Las Meninas" (by Velazquez?) in his signature style.) But Picasso like Miro re-interpreted generations of virtuoso painters before him to create their own masterpieces.

Miro worked on this for a decade, creating his "anti-painting," to develop, gestate his signature in artwork, covered by this awesome book, Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937. For painting or any other cultural (or even political) work to have depth and sustainability, the artist has to cast or grow profound roots in his ancestors and predecessors with and through his contemporaries and community.

Miro did not set out to re-interpret past generations' artwork, he set out to supercede them, destroy them or at least put them in their place, their historic place. In the process he has become our target and mountain to climb or flatten, the challenge that won't go away.

Miro, along with his contemporaries, re-figured art to the point of animation, to such a high level of synthesis and abstraction that meaning and details have gone deep and wide. Artists and designers, consciously and indirectly have benefited from their revolution. Through countless paintings and abstraction, now we can collectively "see" in different modes. For example, cartoons and animation seem to be the offspring of Miro (and Picasso) style painters.

I don't know if Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937 is a must read. Everything around us vies against reading, much less learning such detailed history, the socio-economic system has revolutionized the absorption of culture, as well as its debasement and destruction -- or at least invisibilization through different modes of privatization and commodification -- so that consciousness, knowledge at a new level, practical and utopian are not your daily meal. But reading Miro, visually always, in text and in color, is a must for a new way of seeing this old world that conspires in every way against art and the artist in you.

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