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Potato

Joan Miró (Spanish, Barcelona 1893–1983 Palma de Mallorca)

Date:
1928
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
39 3/4 x 32 1/8 in. (101 x 81.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.50
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Born in the Spanish province of Catalonia, Joan Miró was deeply influenced by his country's native landscape and artistic heritage. Although he was associated with French Surrealism and its practitioners and lived in Paris during the early part of his career, he returned to settle in Spain after World War II. This deliberate remove from the center of the art world is symptomatic of Miró's independence, a temperament that would mark his art as well as his life. Drawing on the possiblilities of free invention encouraged by Surrealism, Miró developed a style that drew from highly personalized and psychological references. Often beginning with a recognizable starting point, Miró transformed his subjects through whimsical color and free play with form.


    "The Potato" is emblematic of Miró's poetic riffs on reality. It takes as its subject a gigantic female figure who stretches her arms wide. She is set against a blue sky and above a patch of earth—perhaps a potato field. The billowing white shape of the figure is attached to a red post in the center of the composition like a scarecrow on a pole. Miró surrounded his merry "potato-earth-woman" with fanciful decorative objects, some of which are "earthy" and some not. The figure has one brown-and-black breast that "squirts" a long, black, winding thread, as elfin creatures flutter in the sky around her. At the left, a red and yellow "butterfly-woman" takes flight from her brown banana-like nose as other creatures climb a ladder—one of Miró's favorite motifs. Beyond the earthiness of the subject, the painting's title appears to be derived from the representation of an actual, recognizable potato: lodged in the woman's forehead is a small, brown, oval object with three tendrils growing out of its upper edge.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (verso): Joan Miró/ Pomme de Terre/ 1928

  • Provenance

    [Galerie Pierre, Paris, until 1930; sold on July 30, 1930, for Fr 10,000, to Valentine]; [Valentine Gallery, New York, owned jointly with Pierre Matisse, 1930–35; stock no. 340; in April 1935, Valentine's share turned over to Matisse]; [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1935; stock no. 110; sold on April 29, 1935, for $500, to Laughlin]; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas I. Laughlin, New York (1935–his d. 1955); their son, James B. Laughlin, New York and Darien, Conn. (1955–75; sold in January 1975, through Pierre Matisse, to Etablissement Vie des Arts); Etablissement Vie des Arts, Vaduz, Switzerland (1975; sold on November 5, 1975, through Pierre Matisse, to Gelman); Jacques and Natasha Gelman, New York (1975–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Galerie Pierre. "Exposition Joan Miró," March 7–14, 1930, no. 4 (as "Pomme de terre").

    New York. Valentine Gallery. "Joan Miró," October 20–November 8, 1930, no. 10 (as "Pommes de terres" [sic]).

    Arts Club of Chicago. "Paintings by Joan Miró," January 27–February 17, 1931, no. 10 (as "Pommes de Terres" [sic]).

    New York. L'Elan Gallery. "Modern Paintings and Sculpture for the Modern Home," September 22–October 15, 1931, no catalogue.

    Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Newer Super realism," November 10–December 7,1931, no. 33 (as "Pomme de terre," lent by the Valentine Gallery, New York).

    New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Joan Miró," November 30–December 26, 1936, no. 10 (as "The Potato," lent anonymously).

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró," November 18, 1941–January 11, 1942, unnumbered cat. (frontispiece; as "The Potato," lent by a private collection, New York).

    Northampton, Mass.. Smith College Museum of Art. "Joan Miró," February 1–28, 1942, no catalogue.

    Poughkeepsie. Vassar College. "Joan Miró," March 7–28, 1942, no catalogue.

    Portland, Ore.. Portland Art Museum. "Joan Miró," April 8–May 6, 1942, no catalogue.

    San Francisco Museum of Art. "Joan Miró," June 2–July 5, 1942, no catalogue.

    Venice. Palazzo Centrale. "XXVII Biennale di Venezia," June 19–October 17, 1954, no. 12 (as "La Patata," lent by a private collection, New York).

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró," March 18–May 10, 1959, checklist no. 37 (as "The Potato," lent by a private collection, New York).

    Los Angeles County Museum. "Joan Miró," June 10–July 21, 1959, checklist no. 35.

    Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "Joan Miró," June–November 1962, no. 49 (as "La Pomme de Terre," lent by a private collection, New York).

    London. Tate Gallery. "Joan Miró," August 27–October 11, 1964, no. 80 (as "The Potato," lent by a private collection, New York).

    Kunsthaus Zürich. "Joan Miró," October 31–December 6, 1964, no. 80.

    New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Joan Miró," October 18–November 18, 1972, no. 19 (as "The Potato").

    Paris. Grand Palais. "Joan Miró," May 17–October 13, 1974, no. 35 (as "La pomme de terre," lent by a private collection, New York).

    London. Hayward Gallery. "Dada and Surrealism Reviewed," January 11–March 27, 1978, no. 9.61 (as "La pomme de terre [The potato]," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 184; as "The Potato").

    London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    Saint Paul de Vence. Fondation Maeght. "Joan Miró: Rétrospective de l'œuvre peint," July 4–October 7, 1990, no. 35 (lent by the Collection Jacques and Natasha Gelman, New York) [joined the exhibition following close of Exh. London 1990].

    Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo. "La Colección de Pintura Mexicana de Jacques y Natasha Gelman," June 23–October 11, 1992, not in catalogue.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró," October 17, 1993–January 11, 1994, no. 80.

    Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 208).

    Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo. "Joan Miró, la colección del Centro Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne y otras colecciones," February 12–May 24, 1998, no. 15 (as "La Papa").

    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 57 (as "The Potato").

    Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 57.

    Paris. Centre Pompidou. "Joan Miró, 1917–1934," March 3–June 28, 2004, no. 141 (as "The Potato").

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró: Painting and Anti Painting, 1927–1937," November 2, 2008–January 12, 2009, unnumbered cat. (pl. 16).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Miró: The Dutch Interiors," October 5, 2010–January 17, 2011, no catalogue.

  • References

    Joan Miró. Letter to Pierre Loeb. July 9, 1928 [Archive Albert Loeb, Paris; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Beaumelle 2004, p. 338].

    Joan Miró. Letter to Sebastià Gasch. August 16, 1928 [published in Ref. Ainaud de Lasarte 2009, p. 369, no. 248].

    Joan Miró. Letter to Pierre Loeb. November 12, 1928 [Archive Albert Loeb, Paris; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Beaumelle 2004, p. 341].

    Focius. "Les Lletres: Meridians." La Publicitat 52 (March 12, 1930), p. 6.

    [Henry McBride]. "Mystic Art of Jean [sic] Miró: A Difficult Parisian Shows Here at the Valentine Gallery." Sun (October 25, 1930), p. 8.

    Edward Alden Jewell. "'Primitive' and Otherwise." New York Times (September 27, 1931), p. X11.

    "News and Comment on Current Art Events." New York Herald Tribune (September 27, 1931), section 8, p. 8.

    Vicente Huidobro. Cahiers d'art 9, no. 1 4 (1934), fig. 25.

    Martha Davidson. "Subconscious Pictography by Joan Miró." Art News 35 (December 5, 1936), pp. 11, 26.

    "Miró is as Miró Does." New York Times (December 6, 1936), p. X13.

    Christian Zervos. Histoire de l'art contemporain. Paris, 1938, ill. p. 426.

    "Art Shows in New York: Surrealism by Dalí and Miró." Boston Herald (December 14, 1941).

    James Johnson Sweeney. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1941, p. 47, ill. frontispiece (color).

    Parker Tyler. "The Amorphous and Fragmentary in Modern Art." Art News 44 (August 1945), ill. p. 16 (color).

    Lionello Venturi. Pittura Contemporanea. Milan, [1947], p. 70, pl. 210.

    A[lexandre]. Cirici Pellicer. Miró y la imaginación. Barcelona, 1949, pp. 27–28, pl. 33.

    J[uan]. E[duardo]. Cirlot. Joan Miró. Barcelona, 1949, p. 42.

    Clement Greenberg. Joan Miró. rev. ed. [1st ed., 1948]. New York, 1950, pp. 33, 129, ill. p. 63 (color).

    James Thrall Soby. Joan Miró. New York, 1959, pp. 58–59, ill. (color).

    Jacques Dupin. Joan Miró: Life and Work. New York, [1962] (French ed., 1961), pp. 189, 192, no. 237, ill. pp. 226, 520.

    G[uy]. H[abasque]. "Les livres sur l'art: Miró par Jacques Dupin." L'Oeil, no. 93 (September 1962), ill. p. 51.

    Gene Baro. "Miró: A Leap in the Air." Arts Magazine 39 (October 1964), p. 41.

    Roland Penrose. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1964, p. 28, no. 80, pl. 17b.

    Herbert Juin. "Miró." Le Arti 17 (March 1967), ill. p. 9 (color).

    Roland Penrose. Miró. London, 1970, pp. 63–64, 208, pl. 40.

    Douglas Cooper. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Acquavella Galleries. New York, 1972, unpaginated, no. 19, ill. (color).

    Margit Rowell in Rosalind Krauss, and Margit Rowell. Joan Miró: Magnetic Fields. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1972, p. 46 n. 24.

    William Rubin. Miró in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1973, p. 119 n. 1.

    Gaston Diehl. Miró. New York, 1974, p. 36.

    Jean Leymarie in Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1974, pp. 15, 119, no. 35.

    Jean Leymarie. "Joan Miró." Louisiana Revy 15 (November 1974), p. 6.

    Margit Rowell. Joan Mirò: Peinture=poésie. [Paris], 1976, p. 185 n. 24.

    Pierre Georgel in Dessins de Miró provenant de l'atelier de l'artiste et de la Fondation Joan Miró de Barcelone. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1978, p. 35, no. 49 (study for the painting).

    Charles W. Millard. Miró: Selected Paintings. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Washington, 1980, p. 23.

    Barbara Rose. Miró in America. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Houston, 1982, pp. 25, 136–37.

    Margit Rowell. The Captured Imagination: Drawings by Joan Miró from the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. New York, 1987, p. 25, no. 64 (study for the painting).

    Dawn Ades in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 42.

    Jacques Dupin in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 49.

    William S. Lieberman in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, frontispiece (color), fig. 3 (color, installation photo).

    Georges Raillard. Miró. Paris, 1989, p. 26.

    Sabine Rewald in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 183–85, 307, ill. (color and bw).

    Harry Bellet in Joan Miró: Rétrospective de l'œuvre peint. Ed. Jean Louis Prat. Exh. cat., Fondation Maeght, Saint Paul de Vence. Paris, 1990, pp. 82–83, 201, no. 35, ill. (color).

    Anne Umland. "Joan Miró's 'Collage' of Summer 1929: 'La Peinture au défi'?" Studies in Modern Art 2: Essays on Assemblage. New York, 1992, pp. 48, 61, 67 n. 4, fig. 20.

    Pere Gimferrer. The Roots of Miró. Barcelona, 1993, pp. 130, 139, 141, 353, no. 414, fig. 249 (color).

    Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1993, pp. 50–53, fig. 52 and ill. p. 166 (color).

    Lilian Tone in Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1993, pp. 392–93, no. 80, ill.

    Anne Umland in Carolyn Lanchner. Joan Miró. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1993, pp. 326–27, 353 nn. 320, 329, 332, 353.

    Judith H. Dobrzynski. "20th Century Art Treasures Are Left to Met." New York Times (May 6, 1998), p. B6, ill.

    William S. Lieberman. "Donation Gelman: l'École de Paris au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts, no. 554 (October 1998), p. 106, fig. 7 (color).

    Jacques Dupin and Ariane Lelong Mainaud. Joan Miró: Catalogue raisonné. Paintings. Vol. 1, 1908–1930. [Paris], 1999, p. 227, no. 308, ill. (color).

    Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1999–2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Fall 2000), pp. 56–57, ill. (color) and front cover (color).

    William S. Lieberman in Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 2002, pp. 93, 117, 167, no. 57, ill. (color).

    Jeffrey Price. "The Dialectical Potato: Potato in Art, Art in Potato." Art Criticism 18, no. 2 (2003), pp. 71–72.

    Agnès de la Beaumelle in Joan Miró, 1917–1934. Ed. Agnès de la Beaumelle. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 2004, pp. 338, 341, 348, 350, ill. p. 371.

    Rémi Labrusse. Miró: Un feu dans les ruines. Paris, 2004, pp. 187, 303 n. 43.

    Claude Laugier with Macha Daniel in Joan Miró, 1917–1934. Ed. Agnès de la Beaumelle. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 2004, pp. 225, 393, no. 141, ill. (color and bw).

    M. J. Balsach. Joan Miró: Cosmogonies d'un món originari (1918–1939). Barcelona, 2007, pp. 170–71, 267, fig. 13 (color).

    Jim Coddington in Anne Umland. Joan Miró: Painting and Anti Painting, 1927–1937. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2008, pp. 18, 24, 27 n. 21.

    Tomàs Llorens. Miró: Earth. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. Madrid, 2008, p. 91.

    Charles Palermo. Fixed Ecstasy: Joan Miró in the 1920s. University Park, 2008, pp. 130–32, 175–77, 228 nn. 21, 24, fig. 47 (color).

    Anne Umland. Joan Miró: Painting and Anti Painting, 1927–1937. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2008, pp. 46–47, 54, 221 n. 11, p. 222 nn. 11, 23, p. 233, colorpl. 16.

    Joan Ainaud de Lasarte et al., ed. Epistolari Català Joan Miró: 1911–1945. Vol. 1, Barcelona, 2009, pp. 369–70.

    Panda de Haan and Ludo van Halem. "Miró in Holland: The Dutch Interiors (1928)." Rijksmuseum Bulletin 58 (2010)/ 3 (2010), pp. 216, 228.

    Karen Wilkin. "Miró's 'Dutch Interiors'." New Criterion 29 (November 2010), p. 44.

    Jacques Dupin. Miró. [1st ed., 1993]. Paris, 2012, pp. 141, 144, fig. 149 (color) and. ill. front cover (color detail).

  • See also
490004

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