Square Space

Jennifer Bartlett
Rhapsody, 1975-76

When Rhapsody was first shown, in 1976, it occupied the entirety of the art dealer Paula Cooper’s Manhattan gallery space. Consisting of 987 one-foot-square steel panels covering an expanse of more than 150 feet, the work has an overall monumentality, but its small panels invite intimate interaction. Together they represent Bartlett’s attempt to create a painting “that had everything in it,” she has said.

Each of Rhapsody’s steel panels was baked with white enamel, silkscreened, and then painted. Its range of imagery—from photographic images to abstract shapes—presents a variety that undermines any sense of stylistic unity. “It was supposed to be like a conversation,” the artist has explained, “in which people digress from one thing and maybe come back to the subject, then do the same with the next thing.” Looking at Rhapsody is like listening in on this conversation. A viewer can step back and see the ebbs and flows, or come in close and engage deeply with a single topic, sentence, or line. [Source: MoMA]

June 16th, 2019

Joan Miró || Birth of the World

Head of a Man, 1937. Gouache and oil on coloured paper
The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers, 1941. Gouache, oil wash, and charcoal on paper
Still Life I, 1922-23. Oil on canvas
Still Life III, 1922-23. Oil and gouache on canvas
Still Life II, 1922-23. Oil on canvas
Woman (Opera Singer), 1934. Pastel and pencil on flocked paper
”Hirondelle Amour”, 1933-34. Oil on canvas

“You and all my writer friends have given me much help and improved my understanding of many things,” Joan Miró told the French poet Michel Leiris in the summer of 1924, writing from his family’s farm in Montroig, a small village nestled between the mountains and the sea in his native Catalonia. The next year, Miró’s intense engagement with poetry, the creative process, and material experimentation inspired him to paint The Birth of the World.

In this signature work, Miró covered the ground of the oversize canvas by applying paint in an astonishing variety of ways that recall poetic chance procedures. He then added a series of pictographic signs that seem less painted than drawn, transforming the broken syntax, constellated space, and dreamlike imagery of avant-garde poetry into a radiantly imaginative and highly inventive form of painting. He would later describe this work as “a sort of genesis,” and his Surrealist poet friends titled it The Birth of the World. [source: MoMA]

Self-Portrait I, 1937-38. Pencil, crayon, and oil on canvas

The exhibition ran between February-June 2019 and featured artwork from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection of Miró’s works, which is one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world. However, the most comprehensive selection of Miró’s oeuvre actually on view has to be that of the Fundació Joan Miró, in Barcelona, a dedicated space created by Joan Miró himself with the idea of making art accessible to all.

MoMA, New York City

April 4th, 2019