Joan Miró

The first major Miró retrospective to be held in London for almost 50 years, Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape offers a comprehensive overview of the career of this most engaging of 20th-century artists, spanning six decades and more than 150 paintings, sculptures and prints.

The playful symbolism, generous colours and visual energy of Miró's work have made it easy to overlook the political content of his work " something this exhibition attempts to remedy, offering a perspective on 'the turbulence of the 20th century, the way an artist's life might be shaped by proximity to these great political upheavals'.The first major Miró retrospective to be held in London for almost 50 years, Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape offers a comprehensive overview of the career of this most engaging of 20th-century artists, spanning six decades and more than 150 paintings, sculptures and prints. The playful symbolism, generous colours and visual energy of Miró's work have made it easy to overlook the political content of his work " something this exhibition attempts to remedy, offering a perspective on 'the turbulence of the 20th century, the way an artist's life might be shaped by proximity to these great political upheavals'.Focusing on three main periods of the artist's life " his childhood in Catalonia, life as an exile in Paris through the war years, and finally his radicalism in the 1960s " the exhibition draws Miró's work into dialogue with its social and political context. We see the artist's rare works of explicit protest " such as Aidez l'Espagne, provoked by the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War " moving into the more abstract defiance of his Constellations during the Second World War, and the dynamic protest of his 1960s works, their pictorial anarchy inspired by Miró's encounters with the paintings of Jackson Pollock.

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It was in the shadow of the First World War that Miró, along with so many others, fled to Paris in search of creative stimulus. Here he met and befriended not only the Surrealists, but also Ernest Hemingway, who would become the owner of the work Miró deemed his first masterpiece: The Farm. The painting offers a vast and detailed chronicle of the artist's home in Catalonia, at once bustling with insect and animal life and strangely still, scorched into immobility by the unrelenting sun. Miró would later describe it as 'a resume of my entire life in the country.'Alive with symbols and fantastical creatures, Miró's Constellations (six of which appear in the exhibition) include some of the artist's most engaging abstractions. Living on the Normandy coast in 1939, Miró found himself unable to gaze freely at the night sky he so loved, constrained by the rules of the wartime blackout. Denied these real landscapes he turned inwards, fashioning a visual universe of his own imagining. Nowhere is this inner world charged with more joyful release or more pathos than in The Escape Ladder, in which the brightly-coloured central ladder represents not only the path to the higher world of art, but also Miró's escape from the brutal realities ahead.Related storiesBBC4 Documentary 'The Art of Spain' including material on Miró.Feature from the Guardian tracing Miró's stylistic development through six individual paintings.Links to museums which have a Miró in their collection.


Venue details

Tate Modern Bankside London SE1 9TG 020 7887 8888 tate.org.uk

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass – £7(standard entry charge is £14)

Open Sunday – Thursday from 10am until 6pm

Open Friday and Saturday from 10am until 10pm

Last admission into exhibitions is at 5.15pm (Friday and Saturday 9.15pm)

Book via the Tate website or call +44 (0)207 887 8888