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Joan Miró

/Works and biography

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Painting (Peinture), 1925
Oil on canvas, 114.5 x 145.7 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 91
© Successió Miró, by SIAE 2008


During the mid- to late 1920s Joan Miró developed a private system of imagery in which the motifs have symbolic meanings that vary according to their context. By studying the constellations of these motifs, one is encouraged to infer meanings appropriate to a particular painting. In Painting two “personages” (the designation Miró used for his abstract figures) and a flame can be identified. The personage on the right can perhaps be read as a female because of the curvaceous nature of the eight-shape, and by analogy with forms in other paintings that are specifically identified by the artist as women. The black dot with radiating lines can be interpreted as the figure’s eye receiving rays of light, or as a bodily or verbal emission. The semicircular orange-red image not only carries a cosmic implication, but also possibly doubles as the head of the second personage, probably a male. The flame, used repeatedly by Miró in this period, may signify sexual excitation in this context. The submersion of legible subject matter and the ambiguity of the painting’s meaning transfer the emphasis to the purely abstract qualities of the work.

credits: Hangar Design Group