MoMA has named its retrospective on the work Joan Miró after his towering masterwork “The Birth of The World,” and indeed, this exhibition is at once a survey of the artist’s varied repertoire and celebration of the MoMA’s engagement with that work. This gives the show an aura of repetition. Repetition, especially in the creative world, seems at first glance a weakness. In this case, however, the audience is treated to a repetition that is undertaken in much the same way a study is undertaken in the art world and as exemplified in such works on display as “Still Life 2,” which finds its context in the tradition of repetition with difference.
WHAT: Joan Miró: Birth of the World
WHERE: MoMA, New York
WHEN: Through June 15, 2019
Against such trademark pieces as those mentioned above and “The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers,” paintings which are iconic in terms of Miró’s ultra-recognizable style, MoMA presents not only pieces from books illustrated by the artist or commemorating previous shows at MoMA, but also mixed media sculpture and relief pieces.
These works are mixed into the gallery and resonate with the various periods of the artist’s two-dimensional work in a contrasting and synergistic way. Picasso once remarked that “Still Life 2” was itself, a poem. This observation could be appropriately applied to the whole of the show, which is as expressive and forward- looking as it is historical and nostalgic. As a sort of “Selected Works,” one could not do better than what the MoMA has decided to exhibit. The works of plastic arts on display betray a depth throughout the oeuvre that reinterprets the painter for initiates and satisfies the curiosities of the formerly-initiate, allowing this sampling of the artist’s production to be read as a collection of texts, shedding light not merely on Miró’s distinctive aesthetic, but on the relation of the aesthetic to the whole of his artistic perspective.
MoMA is scheduled to shut down for four months starting Saturday to complete a $450 million renovation, adding 40,000 square feet and improving the odd flow. According to the New York Times, the most important element of this renovation will be the radical revising of “the story of modernism as we know it — linear and dominated by European male geniuses.” If that’s indeed the case, the gallery’s take on Joan Miró offers a powerful glimpse of a demographic quickly being put out to pasture.