Joan Miro's Detailist Period Term Paper

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Joan Miro's Detailist Period

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Joan Miro was born on April 20, 1893 and began drawing classes in 1900 (Fundacio Miro, p.1). By his early teens, his skill as an artist was already becoming apparent and he enrolled in the School of Industrial and Fine Arts, learning under Modest Urgell and Josep Pasco (Fundacio Miro, p.1). In 1911, Miro had a physical breakdown brought on by a bout of typhoid, but it is believed by many that the breakdown was mental and spiritual, as well as physical. Miro had been attempting to pursue art as his hobby, while working in a traditional job as an accounting clerk. He spent much of 1911 convalescing in Mont-roig, where his family had a farm. During his time at the farm, Miro seems to have reconnected with the Catalan culture, and it clearly had an influence on his artwork, as many of his later detailist pieces would feature scenes from Mont-roig. By 1912, Miro realized that he was meant to be an artist and gave up his regular work in order to pursue his artistic career. He began his detailist work in 1918, after his first one-man exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelone was a failure. Detailism was influenced by Japonisme, the Primitives such as Catalan Romanesque painting and Pre-Italian Renaissance works, and Cubism. Miro spent a few years perfecting his detailist style, but by 1920 he had moved to Paris and was already being influenced by the artistic community there. Detailism gave way to more of a surrealistic style, although it must be noted that Miro's style then, and now, defied categorizing. Instead, he developed a unique style of "organic forms and flattened picture planes drawn with a sharp line" (Museum of Ancient and Modern Art). Miro continued to create art throughout his lifetime, up until his death in 1983. By the time of his death, Miro had dabbled in almost every artistic medium and his work ranged over several different styles. However, detailism, while it may represent only a small portion of Miro's work, remains one of his lasting contributions to the art world, because it is so strongly associated with him.


TOPIC: Term Paper on Joan Miro's Detailist Period Assignment

As its name suggests, detailism was focused on capturing the details in a picture. Many recent art movements had focused on presenting the big picture at the expense of smaller details. For example, impressionism completely gave up the integrity of small details in order to convey a more unified whole. Detailism moved away from the holistic view of art and focused on the individual elements in the artwork. Nothing in the work was given a higher priority than any other thing featured within it, so that everything was represented as equal. As a result, it was meant to reflect a deep relationship with nature, as it did not place greater importance on man-made things than no natural things.

One of the first things the observer notices when looking at a painting from this period is the way that Miro uses light in the paintings. The paintings do not use shadow in a traditional manner. Instead, they seem to be illuminated evenly, much as if he had a spotlight shining light evenly on everything in the landscape at the time he captured the image for his painting. This is one of the hallmarks of detailist painting, and is one of the ways that Miro captures the equality and importance of everything in the painting; nothing falls into shadow or deserves more illumination than any other part of the image.

Another thing one notices in detailism is that, while focused on details, it is not an accurate representation of things as they would occur in nature. In other words, detailism is not the same thing as realism. Instead, detailism incorporates different things to convey an artistic message that goes beyond realism; which is why some consider detailism to be poetic realism. In Miro's works, one can observe that he used calligraphy within his artwork. Furthermore, he incorporated rhythm into his paintings, so that there is movement within the painting, which would not necessarily have existed in the natural landscape which is being portrayed in those paintings.

However, it would be an error to discount the impact of the natural landscape on Miro's artwork of this time period. In fact, it is impossible to ignore the relationship between Miro's time in Mont-roig and his detailist paintings. First, the convalescence at Mont-roig was when Miro Realized that he was meant to be an artist and that attempting to live a different type of life was going to negatively impact his health. Therefore, it can almost be described as his awakening as an artist. Moreover, while Miro's life and works have to be considered against the changing background of Spain's volatile politics of the time, he primarily self-identified as a Catalan, not as a Spaniard, and his time at Mont-roig and his detailist period were very connected to Catalan. Therefore, that his detailist paintings focus on details that were part of his daily, personal life during that time period are not surprising. "His Catalan identity and the love of the Catalan landscape" formed a central part of his detailist period (Gutierrez).

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many of his most famous works from this period are images taken from the Catalan countryside. "These paintings include scenes of his parents' farmhouse, the village church, and the region's tilled fields. Critical works from this period include Vegetable Garden with Donkey (1918) and the Farm (1921 -- 1922)" (Art and Coin TV). Of particular interest is the Farm, because it is a penultimate example of Miro's detailist work, but also reveals how that detailism would be incorporated in his later works. "Painted in Paris, it combines Miro's memories of Mont-roig with elements of cubism, abstraction, and primitivism" (Art and Coin TV). Two of his last works during his detailist period, the Hunter and the Tilled Field, showed an increasing maturity as an artist, which Miro would incorporate in his post-detailist works. The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) (1923 -- 1924) and the Tilled Field (1923 -- 1924), reflect not only the liberating influences of surrealism, but also Miro's own maturity. (Art and Coin).

In addition to drawing inspiration from the Catalan countryside, Miro's detailist work was also inspired by Catalan art. "In his early work Miro had felt the attraction of the mediaeval mural and Gothic retables of Catalonia. From them he learned the compositional strength of local tones and simple colors. His desire for self-discipline led him to simplify things in painting them from nature, just as Catalan primitives had" (Sweeney). From the early Catalan muralists, Miro moved on to the Cubist movement, and he incorporated many of the structural norms of Cubism into his detailist paintings. He was also heavily influenced by Rousseau le Douanier, whose works also focuses on small details. "In the Douanier's work, he found an approach which appealed to his preference for the meticulous delineation of smaller forms as compositional motifs over larger ones- tiny flowers, tiny plants and pebbles, rather than great trees or mountains" (Sweeney). This is evidence when one examines his detailist landscapes, which focuses on the detail in small scenes.


Miro's earliest detailist works were begun in 1918. House with Palm Tree is one of his earliest detailist works, and it incorporates many of the elements that would come to be associated with the style. One of those elements is the use of light; everything in the painting has the same illumination, with no use of shadows except for possibly in the depths of the tilled furrows, where the soil is darker than at the tops of the furrows. The house and the palm tree receive the same attention in the picture, and even the smallest segment of the emerging moon is visible above them in the sky. In this painting, one can see how Miro began to incorporate rhythm into his paintings, as the filed gently curves on one side, implying movement. There is also the suggestion of calligraphy in the way that he has captured the twigs, branches, and small plants that dot the landscape. One of the most interesting aspects of movement in the painting can be seen in the smaller tree, which is in the background on the left side of the image; it almost appears to be moving in the wind.

Miro, House with Palm Tree. 1918.

Another work created in 1918, the Waggon Tracks, may be one of the best representations of detailism. One can see that Miro has already begun developing past what he created in House with Palm Tree; the color sin the Waggon Tracks are more natural, with the sky a more realistic blue and the presence of clouds and movement in the air. Moreover, both paintings feature a house with a large tree in front, but in the Waggon Tracks, the house and all of its lush landscape are background features; instead, the painting focuses… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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