sun 17/11/2019

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, Tate Modern | reviews, news & interviews

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, Tate Modern

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, Tate Modern

The Catalan artist lurched from style to style - and the results weren't always pretty

'Dog Barking at the Moon': Miró used recurring motifs in his work, including the ladder, the dog and the moon
I used to love Joan Miró. Those cute biomorphic forms; those elegantly elusive doodles; those engagingly befuddled, cartoonish faces, each staring forlornly out of the cosmic soup of Miró’s playful imagination; and, of course, those bright, jazzy colours. But I used to love all that in the way that I loved Millais’s Ophelia floating in her deathbed weedy pond, or in the same way that I was taken in by Dalí's “disturbing” melting clocks. You see, it was just one big teenage crush, and, like all heady teenage crushes, I got over it. And when the infatuation faded, I realised there just wasn’t enough there to sustain a properly grown-up, meaningful relationship.


That is quite a harsh assessment, but having seen the show I don't think it's entirely unreasonable. Miro comes across in so many instances as a kind of Picasso-lite. I found myself wondering if he'd lived to day, would he have been a computer animation designer? Those squidgy little characters would have worked great in Pixar (and I don't mean that as a compliment). I was relying on the pre-war stuff to lift it, but a lot of the paintings were disappointingly small. The question is would a different show have given us a very different sense of him? The rooms at Tate somehow didn't feel they had quite enough in them. I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt - just.

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