Miró‘s Advice for Young Painters

Miró, Le Rouge, Le Bleu, Le Bel Espoir (1947) Oil on canvas. Private Collection.

The just-published entry on Joan Miró's Self-portrait (1919) shows what he meant when, in a recording from 1951, he reminds young painters not to copy  nature as taught in academies of art.

"He who wants to really achieve something has to flee from things that are easy and pay no attention to....artistic bureaucracy [academic methods] which is completely lacking in spiritual concern. What is more absurd than killing yourself to copy a highlight on a bottle? If that was all painting was about, it wouldn't be worth the effort."

Learning how to paint nature, he implies, is only the first step towards becoming an artist. That is what mere painters do; artists do more. Artists are poets who search for their own spiritual freedom and leave their art as a guide for others.

Miró is then asked what he thinks of abstract art.

"No. That is not the way to spiritual freedom. You don't gain even a centimeter of freedom from art that's governed by cold formulas. You only get your freedom by sweating for it, by an inner struggle."1 

Now take a look at the Self-Portrait. You'll see what he means.

1. Margit Rowell, Joan Miró, Selected Writings and Interviews (Boston) 1986, p. 228 cited in Sothebys New York Evening Impressionist and Modern Art catalogue, Nov. 5th 2012, p.236


Originally published 30th October 2012. Slightly modified.

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