Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983)
Oil on canvas
38 x 51 in. (96.5 x 129.5 cm)
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002 (2002.456.5)
© 2011 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Between 1924 and 1927, Miró created a group of paintings that are radically different from his earlier work. Known as peinture-poésie, these canvases, with broad and loosely brushed fields of color, are animated by just a few enigmatic signs. They are linked to his association, in the early 1920s, with the poets who later joined the Surrealist movement. The poets were the friends of his neighbor, the painter André Breton.
The present work, with its simple composition, is the most evocative of these works. Only three elements float on the white empty canvas: the word "Photo," the patch of blue, and the sentence "ceci est la couleur de mes rêves" (this is the color of my dreams). The black letters sit on faint, barely visible pencil lines that serve as guides for their sizes, as in a child's writing primer. When asked by the writer Georges Raillard about the meaning of the word "Photo," Miró said, "I started with the idea of a photo—I don't remember at all what photo it was. I neither did a collage nor a reproduction of it. I simply painted the word 'photo.'"
This painting had an illustrious chain of owners beginning with the poet Jacques Viot, who acted as the artist's first dealer in Paris.