Joan Miro


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Joan Miro Universality, Collectivity, and Anonymity
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Ross, Roni D
University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Art History, Art and Art History
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anonymity -- assassination -- collectivity -- joan -- miro -- of -- painting -- universaility
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Art History thesis, M.A.
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Joan Miro lived and worked in the early twentieth century against the backdrop of wartorn Europe. Inspired initially by Dada, Miro's desire to tear down the hierarchy of art eventually led to his well-known assassination of painting project in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, much of the scholarship on Miro focuses on this period of the artist's aggressive experimentation between 1928 and 1931. Scholars agree that the assassination of painting project resulted in a foundation for a new idiom of greater amplitude: the redemption of art. The present study builds upon existing interpretations but also encompasses his late career. It considers Miro's interest in universality, a concept that carried the ethos of the assassination of painting but focused on the pursuit of the pan-literacy and accessibility of art. Scholars have designated 1931 as the end of his assassination program. However, to say that it came to an end is not entirely accurate. There is another pronounced shift in Miro's career around the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 during which Miro shifted his focus to printmaking. This paper considers the events leading to this 1930s shift in media and the changes in his art after this desire to be universal was made explicit in 1951. In each stage of the development of Miro's universality, the concept slightly varies; generally, the term refers to readability, accessibility and how both are achieved. As his career matured, Miro's understanding of universality evolved to include collective projects and the desire for anonymity. Considering the artist's paintings from the 1910s and 20s, prints from the 1930s and 40s, and murals from the 1940s and 50s, this thesis reveals Miro's ongoing commitment to achieving a universal aesthetic.
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by Roni D Ross.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2014.
Adviser: TSAI,JOYCE.
Co-adviser: HYDE,MELISSA L.

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2014 Roni D. Ross


To Alexander D. Franklin


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the chair of my committee Dr. Joyce Tsai for her ma ny critical suggestions, thoughtful conversation, and general guidance on my project. For her helpful comments and stimulating questions, I would like to thank my committee member, Dr. Melissa Hyde. I would also like to thank my peers for their many helpfu l suggestions and nonstop motivation, both in and outside of the classroom. My gratitude extends to my wonderful family for their constant encouragement and willing ears. Finally, my most heartfelt acknowledgments go to my husband, Alex Franklin, for his s upport at every stage of this project and through all of graduate school, his continuous inspiration, and most importantly, his unwavering patience.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 8 2 SEARCHING FOR A UNIVERSAL PICTORIAL LANGUAGE ................................ ........ 19 3 MIR EXPANDING UNIVERSAL ITY ................................ ................................ ............ 43 4 MOVING TOWARD ANONYMITY ................................ ................................ .................... 57 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 70 APPENDIX: FI GURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 7 3 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 77 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 80


6 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Gra duate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts J OAN MIR : UNIVERSALITY COLLECTIVITY, AND ANONYMITY By Roni D. Ross May 2014 Chair: Joyce Tsai Major: Art History J oan Mir lived and worked in the early twentieth century against the backdrop of war led to his well known assassination of painting project in the 1920s. N ot surprisingly, much of 1928 and 1931. Scholars agree that the assassination of painting project resulted in a foundation for a new idiom of greater amplitud e: the redemption of art. The present study builds upon existing interpretations but also encompasses his late assassination of painting but focused on the pursu it of the pan literacy and accessibility of art. Scholars have designated 1931 as the end of his assassination program. However, to say that it around the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 during which Mir shifted his focus to printmaking. This paper considers the events leading to this 1930s shift in media and the changes in his art after this desire to be universal was made explicit in 1951. In each stage of the development of


7 understanding of universality evolved to include collective projects a nd the desire for anonymity. universal aesthetic.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCT ION Joan Mir Ferra, had a long and prolific career. He was born in 1893 in Barcelona and died 90 years later in Palma de Majorca, Spain, and his oeuvre is filled with a myriad of artworks that reflect his evolution as an artist s career encompassed one of the most fraught pe riods of European history. M ir lived and worked against the backdrop of the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, and the Second World War. Each period of turmoil gave rise to new artistic preoccupatio ns th at influenced Mir and helped him constantly define and strengthen his overarching artistic goals. Prior to World War I Mir enrolled in Francesc Gaud years as a student under Gaud from 1912 1915. The school had an open cu rriculum that This was in stark contrast to the traditions of academic training. 1 Also in 1912, Mir visited his first Cubist exhibition at Galeries Dalmau and in 1917 h e attended a large exhibition of French art in Barcelona, both of which made a strong impression. 2 During World War One Mir lived in Barcelona and from 1915 1917 he fulfilled his required military service. 3 After the war, Mir visited Paris for the first time and witnessed the Dada Festival, Salle Gaveau in 1920 that featured artists such as Paul Eluard, Francis Picabia, Andr Breton and Tristan Tzara 4 Though Mir did not formally join group, Dada ideas and objectives became indispensable to him. The Da daist s believed that the war was caused by bourgeois capitalism They aimed for the negation 1 Mir trans. Jame s Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993), 453. 2 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 22 23. 3 Ibid. 4


9 5 The group use d deliberately unconventional methods to shock the public to get them to reconsider accepted stan dards. be traced back to this interaction with the Dadaist s and the Surrealists. In 1924 Mir made his of Cubism 6 yearlong campaign to explicitly do so. 7 During this period, he moved away from easel painting. He did not return to painting un til the mid 1930s. Not surprisingly, much of the scholarship on Mir focuses weighed on t he artist throughout the 1920s. However, Dupin explained Mir delayed his own declaration of rebellion because he was cautious with the current developments of Dada and Surrealism and needed time to digest them. 8 Dupin also stated that Mir was different f rom other artists in his inability to reject painting altogether. Dupin argue d that Mir criticized the medium from within, resulting in purer painting than before. Ultimately, the project amounted to the rescue of painting rather than its destruction. Som e have asserted that the terminology itself is a 5 Dawn Ades, Concepts of Modern Art From Fauvism to Post modern ism (New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1994), 111. 6 Andr Du point o Le Plaisir de Peindre Paris (La Diane Fra aise) 1950, p. 1 Cubism n Joan Mir 1917 1934 edited by Agnes de la Beaumelle, (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2004) 59 7 riade in (Paris), April 7,1930, p. 5 Part III Notes in Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 314. Ma r g it Rowell explains that T riade quoted an artist who said, not name him. Mir claims tha t T riade was referring to him and his subsequent ly documented declarations using similar statements support this assertion. The artist has since been quoted extensively in the literature as the author of the phrase. 8 Assassination o f painting 1928 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993), 151.


10 bit misleadin g. Art critic Hilton Kramer asked whether or not the phrase assassination of painting give s us an accurate account of the project. Kramer, like Dup in, saw reform and therefore a ttributed the hostile nature of the language to the times, which demanded sufficiently provocative words to stand against other contemporary manifestos against art. Once in, Kramer, and this study demonstrate the violence of language did not reflect the regenerative consequences of t his program that are revealed in his subsequent work. 9 xamined by scholars. For the Museum of Modern A rt in New York in 2008, Anne Umland, in conjunction with others, produced Joan Mir Painting and the Antipainting an exhibition and catalogue that represent perhaps the most extensive undertaking on the topic to date. The MoMA exhibition catalogue questioned what constitutes an antipainting when it did not announced as such. 10 The authors answer ed this question by examining a series of works between 1927 and1936. This excellent resource addressed the change in acknowledged possible external and internal factors that motivated him in this decade. The present study aims to build upon such existing interpretations and extend the scope to encompass his late career. By recuperati broader communal, and becomes clear. 9 Hilton Kramer, 4. 10 The authors suggest that an ti pain the decade. For this study, we should understand the term antip ainting as the embodiment of the questions such as what is art, what values does it support, and what should art achieve?


11 Mir spent the 1930s exhibiting in various solo shows and moved back and forth between Paris and Spain. Scholars hav e designated 1931 as the end of his assassination program. 11 However, to say that it came to an end is not entirely accurate. There is another pronounced shift explo ring various media and when he did return to painting, it had a renewed purpose. This moment foregrounds his interest in what he eventually described as being universal 12 Though Mir had been working toward this ideal prior to the Spanish Civil War, the ur gency of the take place in my consciousness happen without my knowledge. I am guided by the events that are located in front of me I later realize, and that 13 Before going further, it is important to examine what was meant by un iversality. Though the term did not appear until 1951, its essence emerged during the assassination of painting era and developed further in the 1930s. In a 1936 interview for wh ether bourgeois or aristocratic; one must resist all societies, even those that are not yet born, if they aim to impose their de mands on us. The word freedom also has a meaning for me, and I will 14 The mentioned freedom referred to the constraints of academic art that require d certain knowledge to understand it. Just as Dada desired to break from tradition af ter World War I, this exce r pt expressed 11 12 in Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 220 13 Joan Mir Mir 10 (1936) Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writi ngs and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 154 14 Ibid.,150.


12 society, now and in the future. As he moved forward, he continued to refine his understanding of universality and how to pursue it. In the wake of World War II, an ex plicit universal program emerged In a 1951 interview for French National Radio, when the inter viewer not try to become a Frenchman. He shoul d be what he is but in a universal way, obviously. It 15 16 But to truly understand what wa s meant by universality, it is necessary to go back to a 1948 interview with James Johnson Sweeney in which Mir expressed his hopes for the future of art: I am not dreaming of the millennium, but I have a profound faith in a better world than the one we occupy and which holds us prisoner. I have fa ith in the collective culture of the future . [where] the studios of the Middle Ages will be revived and students will participate fully, each bringing his own contribution . These last few years have, in fact, witnessed the re evaluation of the cr expressive means: ceramics, lithographs, engravings, etchings, s ilkscreen paintings, etc . All of these forms of art, less expensive than paintings and often as authentic in their plastic statement, will more and more take the place of painti ng. The supply will soon be unable to keep up with the demand, and artistic education and understanding will no longer be reserved for the few, but will be for all. 17 This declaration holds the key to understanding the artistic agenda that d ominated career after the assassinat ion of painting project, which wa s wrapped up in the concept of universality. The excerpt opens with strong language. He said he was not looking to the distant 15 Joan Mir Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 220 16 Mi r Advises Our Young Painters by Rafael Santos Torroella. In Correo Literario (Barcelona) March 15, 1951 in Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 220. 17 Joan Mir: Comment and Interview i an Review p. 210, February, 1948 Sam Hunter, Intro. to Joan Mir His Graphic Work (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc.,1958), VIII.


13 futur e but to a world in reach that is free of constrai nts. He explai ned that the world wa s hostage to th e artistic conventions that had too long dominated, resulting in art only for a privileged few. He emphasizes the liberating qualities of crafts, specifically their accessible and collective nature. Eventua lly, he hoped these pursuits would come to replace painting, stripping it of its elite status. Additionally, and most importantly, Mir dream ed of returning art to the masses instead of keepin g it reserved for those who have the luxury to study its methods of creation, the Western academic language required to understand it and the means to afford it. With this in mind, we can then infer that universality speaks to readability, accessibility, and how both are achieved. Considering the recent turmoil of World War I, it was not surprising that Mir wanted to create art that was not predicated on sociopolitical or biographical context and formal iconographical knowledge He attempted this by trying to t ap into a visual language that i s recognizable on a visceral level. Col lective projects lent themselves to this goal and encourage d anonymity by removing the individualism promoted by easel painting. Mir expressed this sentiment in another 1951 statement: strip himself of his indi viduality, leave it behind, reject it 18 Together the objective of this type of art and collectivity foster ed anonymity, another term he used extensively when discussing his work. Selecting media that can be viewed by the largest au dience possible was easel painting to more collectively inclined media. We can conclude that his reasons for moving away from painting to prints and eventually monumental work were tied to th is universal objective. He wanted to facilitate the change he desired for all of art in his own practice. 18 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Int erviews 217.


14 An interest in universality, collective work, and anonymity has been rarely, if at all, considered together in the exi sting texts. In Mir from 2011, she how he used those psychological and historical contradictions as a source for his work. S he qui ckly trace d his later career. Candela considered i n terms of his desire to leave easel painting behind She explained that the mural helped Mir pursue a desire to reach a collective state of art. This study goes a step further by explaining how the 1947 mural captured the objective and related it to his later murals that embrace collectivity on a deeper level Candela suggested that there was a connection between this collective inclination and other media and briefly related the interest to his ceramics and printmaking practice. While other authors have tend ed their culmination in the form of ceramic murals. In Duncan Macmillan 1982 essay Mir he embraced the less discussed public art from Mir referred to the proposal of a new kind of art that was free from its status as property. 19 He further explained that Andr Breton developed an idea of collective art 19 Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 101.


15 20 Macmillan used this as his basis author incorporated the vast majority of Mir large scale public work and sculptures, but focused his discussion on the highlights. Macmillan mentioned that the artist carefully considered the setting and occasion of each work and that Mir placed an emphasis on the materials, which reveals th e substance of Mir art. Macmillan did not phrase his discussion in significance of the materials and setting is similar to mine. I elaborate on this concept usin g for this preoccupation. I attempt to complete his procedure. The introduction to Margit Rowell seminal 1992 book Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, suggested a lifelong connection between Mir and universality. In the introduction to her extensive anthology she explained he lived them and their metamorphosis into the mythic expression of his painting realities and personal contradictions in order to transform them into the universal images he would present to the world. 21 Rowell further explained that the book was prepar ed with the personal help of Mir who set one condition: the texts must be faithful to the originals and not manipulated. 22 Rowell drew 20 Andr Manifestes du Surr alisme (Paris: Jean Jaques Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 101. 21 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 5. 22 Ibid.


16 on three types of texts: published interviews an d statements, two unpublished notebooks of notes and poems and personal letters which were also unpublished. She divided the text into seven chronological sections determined by the places the artist lived. Though Rowell did not intervene with an analysis of the texts communal aspirations that I trace. I buil d on her text, and the others mentioned above, by explicitly matured. This study considers the events leading to this 1930s s hift in media and the changes in his art after this desire to be universal was made explicit. I claim that this second shift, first into printmaking and then into other media that encouraged collectivity maintained the ethos of the of painting but was also much more deliberate rather than purely aggressive Because the concepts of universality and collectivity became ever more important to the artist, the spirit of the assassination of painting bec ame intertwined with his drive to re ach a collective point of art. Most scholars who have studied this area o assassination of painting to the politics of the 1920s and 30s, and the unrest brought about by events leading to and during World War II. 23 While these circ umstances certainly played a role in this second shift, I focus on the universal factor, as this connection has not been explicitly made in the existing literature on Mir. 24 Thus, to fully understand the significance of this 23 Glenn D. Lowery, Jim Coddington, et al. Joan Mir Painting and Anti Painting 1927 1937 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008 ) vi vii 24 An interest in universality and utopian agendas in the history of a bstract ion has been addressed. However, I limit my discussion on this topic to Mir as he limited his engagement with other groups. For instance, he once explain ed that he refused to show with the Abstract Creation Group because he thought their aims were too limited.


17 second moment of change in the is important to e present study is limited to three media: paintings from his early care er, graphic work from the 1930s and 40s, and murals from the 1940s and 50s. Chapter 2 discuss es searched for a pictorial language not based in the tradition of Western art that c ould appeal to audiences on a vis ceral level. At this stage, his main preoccupation was achieving an ideal he called classicism in painting. 25 His pursuit of classicism resulted in the desire to create a widely understood pictorial lang uage. Chapter 2 also suggest s that the concept of pai nting in this period became problematic for him and led to the assassination of pain ting project. Chapter 3 explores his graphic work and consider s his engagement with printmaking as an analogous moment of study and experimentation. It show s how his techni cal investigation with the tools and procedures of printing echo ed the subversive attitude of the assassination project The goal in Chapter 3 is to show how expanded to include the method of production as collective wo rk bec ame more importa nt to him. Chapter 4 examines a selection l that point. Mir explained me b ecause it requires anonymity, because it reaches the masses directly and because it plays a Furthermore re are many different efforts and views, one fin d s many trends in art. It is for this reason that I isolate myself from others in order to see clearly. See Joan Mir Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Mar git Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 203 204. 25 Mir interest in universality originated in the 1920s, thou gh it does not fully develop for another decade. At this point he referred to an ideal called classicism. There is an undeniable connection between his preliminary goal of classicism in painting and his future goal of universality, which includes expansion of an evolved classicism into other media.


18 26 Thus, they synthesize his pictorial developments as well as his experimentation with non traditional procedures and regard for the publi c and address a growing concern with anonymity and the integration of art with the environment. Finally, the conclusion acknowledge s the paradox that ar ise s as Mir attempted to move further into a col lective state of art and how he negotiate d his desire f or anonymity with his ever growing level of fame. stones in his artwork that bring this concept to the forefront, I hope that this study will not only open up the discussion beyond isola through which to unify the entirety of his career. 26 XXe sicle Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 252.


19 CHAPTER 2 SEARCHING FOR A UNIVERSAL PICTORIAL LANGUAGE In 1919 Mir wrote to his f riend get to classicism via Cubism to a pure art, completely free but classic 1 To understand how Mir used Cubism as his starting point, we must first consider his formal training and the circumstances of his early engagement with the avant garde. Mir enrolled in art school, first at latter was led by Francesc Gal. Gal encouraged a young Mir to draw from touch, having him feel the faces of classmates with his eyes closed or holding objects behind his back. 2 Additionally, Mir took classes at the Cercle Artstic de Sant Lluc, a school founded by Antoni Gaud 3 Also in 1912, Mir saw his first Impressionist Fauvist and Cubist paintings at the Galerie Dalmau in Barcelona. 4 A few years later in 1919 Mir took his first trip to Paris and met Pablo Picasso. 5 Mir wrote a letter to Rfolis detailing his impressions at the Rodin Museum, Luxembourg Museum, and Lou vre Museum. 6 He cited paintings such as douard The Balcony Claude Gare St. Lazare Paul The Cardplayers and Jean Auguste Dominique The Turkish Bath Mir used adjectives like divine, wonderful, admirable, 1 21 2 Modern Artist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 140. 3 Homage explai ns that Mir turned ceramics into a monumental idiom pieces from ceramic workshops of Barcelona to create a sty le of architectural decoration. See Mir in America (Houston: Th e Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 104. 4 Photographs Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 125. 5 Ibid. 6 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 71.


20 exquisite, and exciting to describe Pierre Auguste Renoir, Vincent Willem van Gogh, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissar r 7 However, of the Rosenberg Exhibition Mir wrote, I have seen the exhibitions o f the modern some that are lovely, but they do a lot just for the sake of doing them, only for the dealers and the money. In the galleries you see a lot of senseless junk. The French tradition is Cubist discipline of Braque and Picasso, there exists an army of parasites Cubist exhibition at the Galeries La Bo tie. 9 Unsatisfied with the current state of artistic production in the early 1920s Mir pursued an ideal he called classicism 10 The term fi rst appeared in 1919 : R emember how I told you that we had to get to classicism via Cubism to a pure art . completely free but classic Dig, dig deeply, as I am always telling Ricart, and digging deep inside will reveal new problems in all their splend or, problems to be resolved, and they will carry us along the escape route from deadly momentarily interesting work to really good painting 12 Mir introduced the dichotomy between m omentarily interesting and good painting as the crux of his classicism Tho ugh he did not make it clear exactly what constituted goo d painting or how to get there he did tell us two significant thi ngs. First, the standards for classic are fluid and constant revision may be in order He encouraged his fellow artist s to continuou sly seek new issues instead of focusing on a single problem for the duration of their career. Second, Mir declared a starting point: Cubism We can see that Mir revered key French modern ists of approximately the last sixty years; perhaps because of the way these modern ists addressed 7 Ibid. 9 Ibid., 71 72. 10 This term first appears in a letter to E.C. Ricart The letter was written in Catalan. The term reappear s in several more letters in the early 1920s and then does not get used again. This letter and all letters cited in C hapte r 1 to E.C. Ricart and J.F R fols were translated from Catalan by Patricia Mathews for Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992) iv and 307 12 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 63.


21 contemporary issues and concerns in their art. We can also see why Cubism was a necessary starting point. He called Cubism the great discipline but also pointed out that other s besides Braque and Picasso were putting out wo rk in the style but only using it for financial gain The pursuit of classicism i s significant to our discussion as Mir interest in universality originated in this period Thou gh during these years he focused solely on painting, there is an undeniable connection between his preliminary goals in painting and his future goal, expansion of these objectives into other media Additionally, during these early years Mir solidified his mature style This included a visual language Mir hoped could be ubiquito usly understood The general style and its implications carry through to his later projects, thus it is important to understand how it evolved. Based on examples from the 1910s and 1920s the arti artistic maturity required him to work through the rich legacy of his recent avant garde predecessors Mir like other avant garde artists, turned to the art of the primitive to guide the development of his own artistic language time and be relevant to any viewer primi tivism allowed him to tackle this aspect of his classicism by presenting any subject in a visual language that could be universally understood Mir assassination of painting I e quate which held painting in the highest esteem of the fine arts, with the principles that motivate his universality With the potentially overwhelming amount of pictorial information available with the artistic e xchange of the 1910s, and with Cubism as his standard, a young Mir spent the decade sorting though the available styles and theories of contemporary art before arriving at his own style in the1920s. Selected works from this time period show what aspects o f what movements


22 or master artists Mir accepted or discarded and how Mir fashioned the artistic ideal of classicism. These movements broke free of the long held conventions of painting and explain his pull to the contemporary, rather than the history of art as a whole. Full engagement with the work of avant garde s can be seen in Standing Nude 1918 ( Figure 2 1 ). Here the artist place s a single figure in a confined setting, claustrophobic with visual information. Mir idolized Henri Matisse and constantly drew on Fauvist paintings for guidance. The motifs, as well as the expressive coloring reference Fauvism, a movement more invested in the evocative properties of color than representational accuracy. Mir fills the space with vivid hues immediately drawing the viewer in. What is presumably a drape ( though the limited context of the setting makes that assertion conjecture ) hangs down dominating almost two thirds of the compositio n The vivid coloring continue s on the rug, here. With the drape cutting the space off the rug is one of the features that emphasiz e the lack of spatial depth. The perspective of the rug is incorrect in relation to the presentation of the figure Instead of receding into space there is a slight aerial view. This is similar to many of the tables in the still lifes of Czanne, a Post Impressionist who attempted to balance direct observation from nature and his own subjec tive viewing T he figure herself hark s back to the nudes of both Matisse and Picasso. Similarities can Blue Nude ( Figure 2 2 ) Les Demoi ( Figure 2 3 ) both of 1907. 15 From Blue Nude Mir borrow ed the chunkiness of the flesh as well 15 Socit des Artistes Indpendants in Paris In July 1916, Les Demoiselles was exhibited to the public for the first time when it was included in the Salon d'Antin and then again in the early 1920s Though Mir did not write explicitly about his encounters with these works it is reasonable to infer that because of his frequenting of art gatherings a nd knowledge of both Matisse and Picasso that he was aware of the paintings. Mir was in Paris from 1919 1925 and these works were still in the community consciousness


23 as a skin tone tinted with the surrounding colors. Just as Matisse g ave the body a blue glow, fuchsia of carpet while her top half absorbs the blues, greens and yellows of the drape. Also, both show the naked women from the front with their gazes slightly diverted. The figural pose of a bent arm placed on or behind th e head connects the three Matisse d id this somewhat passively with a relaxed arm while Picasso d id it more aggressively with a sharply angled arm, a model Mir seem s to have follow ed Mir also recall ed Les Demoiselles in the construction of the body. Though Les Demoiselles had yet not arrived at Cubism it was certainly playing with the use of individual shapes to construct figures and objects Similar to Standing Nude breaks up the investigative shapes, especially visible on the legs and knees. Though Mir invokes the above images, he was not simply copying them. Mir was exposed to th e work of these and other artists and internaliz ed their forward developments. His engagement with the work of others was crucial to the development of his style, and also his ideas on what quality art should achieve. A consideration that freely discuss his opinions on art g ive insight to his changing process in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In a letter to J.F. Rfolis a long time friend from dated September 13, 1917 Mir referenced the movements he was looking at favorably d 16 He laud ed the past, but also insist ed that the time ha d come to move on He wr ote c anvas of a racing locomotive in a style that is completely different from a landscape painted at 12 noon . After the contemporary liberation of the arts we 16


24 will see artists under no flag emerge with the strings of their spirits vibrating to differen t kinds of music. 17 This passage in addition to the opening quote of C hapter 2 from the same letter, expresse d early on what will become a key qualification of Mir classical idea l : an understanding that a rt must not be static to remain relevant. 19 Written in 1917 about the same time as the previously discussed paintings, this excerpt wa s significant I t show ed that he was visually working through different styles, he was also th inking about the intellectual properties of each. Although Mir praised Cubism he did not openly welcome everything from the style and the other modern ist artists. In fact, his relationship with the avant gard es was a back and forth of acceptance. For example, one moment he condemn ed fellow Spaniard . the French (and Picasso) are doomed because they have an easy road and they p aint to sell 20 A nother moment he praise d that everyone in Paris was Czanne? In present day France I admire only Picasso, Derain, 21 Essentially, Mir was wary of how dominant avant garde styles, like Cubis m, might quickly turn into nothing more than a mannered style However, Mir repeatedly praised Czanne. H is affinity for his predecessors lie s in the similar ity of their goals. Czanne was not only preoccupied with an emphasis on form over subject and bringing together classical rules of realism with modern sensibilities; he also create d work s that would remain relevant long after their creation. Czanne also strived for something that could be called classic L ike 17 Ibi d. 19 R emember how I told you that we had to get to classicism via Cubism to a pure art...completely free but classic Dig, dig deeply, as I am always telling Ricart, and digging deep inside will reveal new problems in all their splendor, problem s to be resolved, and they will carry us along the escape route from deadly momentarily interesting work to really good painting 20 72. 21 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 75.


25 Czanne, Mir was after something that could be both foundational and permanent Mir eventually pursued art that wa s more broadly accessible because he believed that accessible art was one way to achieve something permanent. Though Mir never explicitly defined what he meant by classicism, several of his letters before 1920 provide a sufficient foundation to understand this goal. In October 1917, he wrote ed on what he fe lt wa s import ant after Post Impressionism set the artist free. For the first time he referred to the spirit, which he believed held the key to the importance of art : I think that after the grandiose French Impressionist moveme nt which sang of life and optimism, and the post Impressionist movements the courage of the Symbolists, the synthesism of the Fauves and the analysis and dissection of Cubism and Futurism, after all that we will see a free Art in which the the resonant vibration of the creative spirit 23 Freedom, or liberation as he said in other writings and interviews, which refer red to the values any particular society imposed on art, became deeply important to him. As the decade continued this freedom s p oke to the refusal to commit to one movement and also to the break ing free of as many convention s of Western art as possible to expand his audience to a global one. Mir referred to the creative spirit as a resonant vibration. Spirit should capture the a ge of its creation, and should be communicable to the future. Just under a year later, Mir use d the term classicism for the first time. Though he discusse d it only in passing in another note to Ricart, this significant moment show ed Mir more clearly expressing his ambition : By canvases that are good I mean that they arrive at a classicism toward which one should strive as an expression of modern life. I believe that a superartist has to appear who, like Czanne said, wanting to ma ke something solid, 23 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 52 53.


26 something for museums out of Impressionism, brilliantly puts in all the modern preoccupations and makes them something for museums. 24 Mir recounted Czanne museum that is art that is made with an audience in mind Mir continue d to strive for lasting art, but came to repudiate the notion of something for museums as h e move d away from easel painting and more invested in the acce ssibility of art. After the assassina tion of painting he began to see museums more as a prison for art as t hey only keep the work of select artists and encourage a contextual understanding of an artwork with devices such as wall texts and publications. Later in his career, museums highlight e d many of the things Mir wished to abandon We can surmise from the above discussion that classicism as Mir understood i t in 1918 needed to create work that was valid at the time it was made and in the future. To get to this point, an artist needed to consider the lessons of predecessors and move forward with these lessons internalized. Mir wanted a consolidation of all modern art, a synthesis of the isms to break free from and achieve something greater. 26 No umbrella style cover ed this goal ; the individual must discover his or her own m ethod to achieve this aspiration. Though Mir was not inter ested in the individual per se he was clear that individualism factored into anonymity, another concept that will become indispensable from his goals in the second half of his career. This study conclusion return s to the issue of individualism and how it relates to the concept of universality as whole. In a 2011 essay, Eugenio Carmona arrived at a similar definition of classicism as expressed above. m states: 24 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 52 53. 26 Picasso, Mir, Dal Angry Young Men: The Birth of Modern ity (Milan Italy: Skira Editore S.p.A, 2011), 127


27 From these letters we can deduce that Mir also understood C lassicism in Modern synthesis of the isms what would arrive, in the way that Czanne wanted with Impr essionism, at an art like that of the museums I believe that the detailed study of the terminology used by Mir in those years would clarify the understanding of his work a gre a t deal. Mir did not use terms such as Classicism or C alligraphy in a conventi onal manner. 27 Carmona also explained simple art because it was alive. Carmona claimed that though Mir was never a C ubist, he felt as its rhetoric justified the new c lassicism and Mir saw it as the origin of the modern 28 While going through the isms before arriving at nece classicism demanded t hat the artist go beyond them our vibrations. 29 He urged artists to push forward and embrace the contemporary and beyond. The follow er sifting through the major movements of the last half century, Mir had a place to begin classicism was based on the avant garde dismantling of past pictorial conventions and pushed toward the constructions of a pictorial vocabulary that aimed be yond the limits of academic art. The precedents were set for un naturalistic color palettes, compression of space, and the analytical breakdown of forms ; t his was exactly the type of free dom he mentioned when he said the contemporary liber ation of the arts 30 At this point in his career, Mir wa s beginning to see that art that br oke free from these constraints could have the potential for longevity I 27 See footnot 124 125. 28 Eugenio Carmona, 124 125. 29 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 50. 30


28 propose that Mir, building on the foundation discussed, worked toward classicism by gene rating his own form of primitivism. Mir was d rawing from the p rimitivi stic tendencies of 19 th century artists which stressed a retreat to a simpler time and a return to a simp le life The 19 th century was referred to as the belle poque by some though not everyone saw it as such. Many saw it as a period of decadence moral decay, and the beginning of the end of Western civilization 31 Fin de si cle was another term that was used to name this time period. Fin de si cle more accurately expresses the anxiety, weariness and despair felt by many intellectuals and artists 32 This inability to cope with the times is one fact or that prompted an interest in non Western cultures Mir yearned for a similar experience. He 33 the primitivism of these admirable people, my intensive work, and especially, my spiritual retreat and the ch ance to live in a world created by my spirit and soul, removed 34 This likens his initial attraction to primitivism with the goal s of artists like Paul Gauguin who also looked to foreign places such as Tahiti and even near by locations like Brittany as an escape from Western civilization 36 Moreover, Mir embrac ed the strategies of primitive people, like those found in cave paintings, as well as in the a rtworks of children just as other artists of the early twentieth century had done. 37 For many 31 Petra ten poque Nineteenth centur y European art ed. Sarah Touborg, (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006), 4 64 32 Ibid. 33 Siurana refers to a village in the municipality of the Cornudella de Montsant in Catalonia in the Prades Mountains This rural town is an ancient place that was conquered by the Muslims and then re conquered by the Christians in 1153. 34 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 50. 36 Petra ten poque 478. 37 I borrow phrases suc h as from Mir when referring to prehistoric cultures. The term primitive was used in the resources that were available to Mir such as books by Hombre f sil (1916)


29 avant garde artists, there wa s a desire to capture the nave openness of vision available to those unburdened by civilization. The attraction to the art of childr en and of primitive peoples, of non Western themes as well as of regional religious communities, grew out of a desire to tap into 38 Mir saw similar value in this type of research and thought it help ed him return art to its origins. Art historian Margit Rowell who spent significant time researching explained that prehistoric art and the art of groups like children appealed to Mir because of the simplicity of their language derived from a collective iconography. Rowell Mir also appropriated all primitivisms and folk art expressions into his heritage, thus expanding his Catalan identity to encompass many universal expressive conventions [he admired] the ir simplicity of language their immediate impact, their forms that derived from a collective iconography and the anonymity of the artists. 39 Though their styles vary from child to child, motifs like sunrays or strategies such as exaggerating the size of i mportant features commonly reoccur in their artwork. Furthermore, Mir said he had high regard for Paul Klee ogether, Masson and I discovered Paul Klee, a discovery t hat was essential to both of us, and may have been using Klee model. 40 Ope ning himself up to these two groups allowed Mir to recover the honesty he was seeking to generate in a visual language that was universal. Mir spent the better part of the 1920s experimenting with visual vocabularies The years 38 Pablo Picasso, cited in Brassa Pablo Picasso Playing with Form Discovering Child Art: Essays on Childhood, Primitivism, and Modern ism, edited by Jonathan Fineberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 122. 39 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 3. 40 Memories to of Rue Blomet Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (Ne w York: De Capo Press, 1992), 103.


30 the name suggests this was a time when Mir was deeply invested in capturing the details of the t h ings he portrayed in his canvases. During this period Mir solidifie d his calligraphy based on the intensive studies of these details. 41 The Farm 1921 22 ( Figure 2 4) is characteristic of this moment in his career. This painting shows a country scene that includes crop fields, buildings, animals, workers and farming tools. The busy image is crowded on the bottom, but opens up to a large blue sky. The far thest building is rendered with careful attention to its texture, creating a rough grainy feel through the various directions, shapes, and thickness of line. The various textures of the fields are e qually registered. The artist even register ed the differences in the appearance and feel of the foreground tree and the background foliage. This attention to detail is characteristic o f For Mir calligraphy referred to the manner of depicting things in his painting. The gestural approach he used to capture details wa s analogous to calligraphic writing which both demonstrate the exquisite penmanship of the calligrapher and legibility As with beau tiful penmanship calligraphy requires Once you understand the outlines, the y can be connect ed in a harmonious way. After his Detailist work Mir began to integrate words into some of his composition s The letters are written with a similar gestural regard thus adding another dimension to his pictorial calligraphy. abstractions . what interests me now is the calligraphy of a tree or a rooftop, leaf by leaf, twig by twig, 42 The awareness of these particulars were an analogy for the process of creating them, revealing an important relationship between 41 Mir first used the term calligraphy in the context of his art in a letter to his friend E.C. Ricart on July 16, 1918. 42


31 production and result. 43 The extra time it took to d epict specifics offered him a deeper understanding of his own image : love with it, love that is born of a slow understa nd ing . Why belittle it? A blade of grass is as enchanting as a tree or mountain -Apart from the Primitives and the Japanese, almost everyone 44 The scope of The Farm includes a vast number of objects and calligraphy that required the artist to translate the shape of each object into a painterly with Francesc Gal. 45 ed that he privileged his haptic and visual sensibilities over realism His calligraphy invol ved the stylizing of objects much like hieroglyphs, in which the contours of the objects com e together to give them meaning. His understanding of the world was tied to touch, bringing to mind a sort of egocentric thinking, more typical of a child than an adult. 46 like art can be traced to his own childhood experience with art and his training with Gal. Gal encouraged the young artist to draw from touch and with his eyes closed Mir explained, tell the difference between a straight line and a curve. I come to have a living sense of form by drawing things I have touched with my eyes closed. 47 Mir thought his current work lacked the whimsical quality of he made it explicit that he wanted to remedy this in his 43 Chapter one C a lligraphy : Fixed Ecstasy: Joan Mir in the 1920s (University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 22. 44 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Int erviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 57. 45 46 I Discovering Child Art: Essays on Childhood, Primit ivism, and Modern ism, edited by Jonathan Fineberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 227. 47 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo P ress, 1992), 110.


32 artwork experience I think that at the end of my life I will recover all the force of my childhood 48 Jonathan F ineberg, who has dealt extensively with the prevalence of child art influences in the art of 20 th century artists, explained that as early as 1929 friends of Mir were already taking note of h daughter, Dolor s, he became even more interested in it. Fineberg wr ote Mir admired and meticulously collected the imaginative and of then dramatic childhood drawings of his daughter Dolor archived them in portfolio envelopes, carefully store d and labeled them by year, and thought highly enough of them to send one to in 1935 Kandinsky and two to the important American collector Albert Galltin 49 t strategy found in the artwork of children is the use of something called intellectual realism The term intellectual realism Le Dessin Enfantin and referred to a child drawing wh at they know, rather than what they see. In The Farm the activities behind walls and normally closed doors. 50 This is most notable on the right side of the chicken co op in The Farm The space is highlighted by a dramatic red box, but the wiring from the other sides wall is missing, as well as the covers of two extra windows O n the house on the left the front 48 35 (1960), 174; reprinted in Dora Vallier, L rieur ditions du S euil, 1982), 144. As cited in 140. 49 Jo 50


33 door is omitted in addition to the wall of the overhang. Essentially, Mir br oke the rules of realism to capture a scene that allow s for compete access to all of its events. By 1923 The Farm and The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) 1923 24 ( Figure 2 5 ) the artist shift ed fully from attempting to capture an object in its entirety and instead reducing it to its most elementary but read able state 52 Though the latter was presented in a much more abstract language, it was not meant to be overwhelming. In fact, Mir simply minimized the objects from The Farm to their utmost basics. In The Hunter the artist moved farther into a prim itive state bringing together all of the re sources discussed as he attempted to move closer to a universal pictorial language Mir pushed throughout. Also, in many ways in this image Mir mimicked the transformative imagination of a child, using their creative strategies. 53 At the top left corner, there is a bird or plane with a rope ladder hanging from it and French and Catalan flags flying. To the right stands the hunter in an active ready position, complete with his Catalan cap, strong facial features, a pipe; arms and hands hold a knife and rabbit, respectively. Touch is once again emphasized through the character of the lines and the volume of shaded masses. For example, the essen tials of the figure, the arms, legs, and torso, are given in strong, uninterrupted lines. However, the mass of the body is given in a dotted spiral disk circling his chest. Even his sex organ is included. What we are left with is a sort of elaborated stick figure A similar phenomenon occurs with the sardine in the foreground. Only its basic features head, spine, and tail are solidly portrayed and its round 52 Joan Mir: A Retrospective (New Have n and London: Yale University Press, 1987) 33. 53 This image is broken down using a diagram created by William Rubin based on a conversation with Mir himself. See : Fixed Ecstasy: Joan Mir in the 1920s (University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 59.


34 shape is completed with more dotted line disks. cone shaped smoking gun sits on his e xtended left arm, with a large round bullet beside it. Next to the gun is a floating eye and carob tree. Three large, open eyes are discernible in the composition in addition to the closed eyes of the dead rabbit; in this way, the artist allegorically figu res sight. Unlike the eyes of the hunter or fish, which are both placed directly next to a rather large ear combining the power of both senses, the other eye narrows in on its purpose. Vision is actively shown through three rays that originate in the pupil and push outward to the bullet. Similarly, the schematic rays emanate out of the above sun, visualizing heat. More vegetation can be f ound throughout the composition, for example, a vine and a stem in the bottom left. According to the artist, the setting is the Catalan coast. Various related elements make up the remainder of the composition. Seagulls fly in the upper right corner, waves from the Mediterranean are visible below them, and the sardine takes up most of the bottom of the composition. Its body i s made up of an eye, a tail, a spine, and even its eggs. The first four letters of the word also point to the sardine in the bottom right. Miscellaneous elements include a grill with fire, a potato, a piece of fecal matter, insects, a star, and a rainbow. We are given the same open access to all events as in The Farm, so that we may understand that the sardine swims as the hunter holds his rabbit, the seagulls fly as the grill fires up, and the gun smokes as the eye watches. Also, the more prominent objects are, the more important they are. 54 Here one is meant to focus primarily on the hunter and sardine, with secondary interests in the gun, floating eye, and adjoining tree. Mir was not simply attempting to imitate children ; he deployed what he imagined to be the ir methods and spiri t. One of the goals of the visual language Mir developed was uninhibited readability. Mir so generously borrowed 54


35 eye. Unlike adults, children do not po s ses the acquired knowledge to understand formal iconography T heir iconography taps into something more intrinsic, something Mir was clearly drawn to. In his 1998 essay The Infant in the Adult Joan Mir and the Infantile Image a rt h istorian Christopher Green wrot e all that Mir produced between 192 4 1939 (and indeed later) stands in some relation, more or less, explicit, to the discourse of the child and of origins 57 Therefore, it is appropriate to use strategies like those previously mentioned to decode much of Similarly, T he Hunter ha s strong primitive roots in the prehistoric sense. As a child Mir was fascinated by the cave paintings of Altamira, reproduced in Arqueolgica. 58 His access to similar pictorial prehistoric sources grew s tronger with recently published magazine articles on related topics and other museum exhibitions both in Spain and Paris. In the interwar years, more and more publications such as L Cahiers and Document, took an interest in prehistor ic art. Such an interest can be perhaps traced to the trauma that resulted from the First World War and the desire among artists to seek inspiration from outside of the society that was responsible for the war. In addition to magazines and journals m ore b ooks on the subject were also being published and Mir acknowledged his aware ness of these r esources. For example, Henri Bre uil El Hombre f sil (1916). 59 These influences remain ed with the artist and also play ed a large role in the conception of his large scale murals discussed later Circulating charts of Spanish petroglyph s gave the artist an example 57 227. 58 Sidra Stich, Joan Mir: The Dev elopment of a Sign Language (St. Louis: Washington University, 1980), 11. 59 Ibid.


36 of simplified, composite figures. 60 This mo de of figuration may have provided him with the schematics for his figures ; also, most awed by, but rather the mystical spirit they embodied. 62 This translate d into hi s art through concepts I n other words, he individualized vital elements as he generalized or left out anything extraneous. 64 Building on his calligraphy the artist used the most salient features of something to describ e it and represent it In attempting to capture the contours of something, its position in space as well as movement, and its most significant sensory features, Mir used image concepts to give the viewer all the information necessary to understand his com positions. Furthermore, a s the scale of the figures suggest, it is the relationship between the hunter and the sardine we are meant to consider even though they are not actively engaged. In this painting, Mir drew upon popular ideas circulating about the primitives in the early twentieth century; for example, h e the power assigned to images and texts. French scholar Lucien Lvy Bruhl popular bo ok How Natives Think (1910) on the language of primitive peoples was one of the resources Mir studied. Lvy Bruhl explained that it was believed that orces and p rimitive peoples developed code names for their prey to communicate on a hunt. 66 The Hunter replicates this idea by abbreviati ng the word sardine to sard In 1926 the same year Mir was working on The Hunter and other similar types of painting s, a shift in his work f oreshadowed his assassination of painting project Now that we 60 Petro g l yphs are rocks that have had pictograms incised into them. 62 Ibid, 13. 64 Ibid, 16. 66 Lucien Lvy Bruhl, How Natives Think 327 as cited in Stich, Joan Mir: The Development of a Sign Language, 15.


37 have considered the formal resources Mir was drew from we must consider concurrent events and influences that merge with his formal research at the end of the 1920s as they contribute to Mir universality in the next decade and for the rest of his career. I n the early and mid 1920s Mir was drawn to Dada and their desire to break with Western art standards. The above analysis shows how Mir used unconventional pictorial sources fo r his paintings to achieve a similar break. Therefore, Mir said the heart of joy: the joy of discovering what I am doing after I have done it. 69 However, the artist said understanding of Surrealism, the school was already established. 70 Nevertheles s, he borrowed some their creative practices, such as the elimination of context in compositions and disregard for logic and their use of automatism. 71 He described the Surr ealists as extremely discipline d [I] consider Surrealism an extremely interesting but explain ed he wanted to remain independent and not limited by a single ism 72 Statements such as these have led to a recent trend to disassociate the artist from the movement proper. Among other reasons notabl e of which was the 1925 connecting the Surrealists with the 69 le (excepts), by Pierre Bourcier. In Les Nouvelles Litt raires Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 275 70 Joan Mir by Francisco M elgar. In Ahora Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 116. 71 Automatism refers to a Surrealist strategy in which the participant would enter a hypnotic or trance like s tate and then engage in a creative activity such as writing, drawing, or painting. 72 Joan Mir by Francisco Melgar. In Ahora 116.


38 Communist Cart group. 73 Considering the previous discussion of the condemnation of artistic movements rallying under a single ism it would not make sense to place him neatly into the group. However, his exchange with the group is indisputable F or the purposes of this argument, I suggest Mir saw the strategies and objectives associated with the movement as valuable tools and used the platform provided by the Surrealists to further his own experimentation. But perhaps most significantly, they share d do exist for the Surrealists. What they understood by art is anti art. 74 feel, just as grammar is essential for expressing yourself 75 One example in which the artist adopt ed Surrealist techniques is Dog Barking at the Moon 1926 ( Figure 2 6 ). The unlocking of unconscious that was key to the Surrealists allowed Mir to test his developing visual language in a real m where rules are discarded Here a colorful dog, moon, bird and ladder exist in a simple environment with little context to understand it. Is the ladder leaning against a wall with the bird and moon drawn on it, or is it floating upright? Either way it does not matter if the painting is based i n a dream or in the unconscious Mir said working as if he were under the influence of a dream allowing him to 76 Moreover, an even bigger imp Surrealism. In her 2006 book, Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War a rt historian Robin Adle Greeley 73 : 1918 Joan Mir: The Ladder of Escape (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 52. 74 oan Mir by Francisco Melgar. In Ahora 116. 75 Ibid. 76 Auj


39 identified a st rong 77 Thus, as Mir embrace d automatism he attempt ed to understand how unconscious marks c ould be representations of human experience F or the purpos es of his universal visual language, he was nurturing a growing desire to attack the conventions of art up through Cubism and especially his own creative output until the declaration. Mir confirmed his appreciation but independent connection wit have been able to make use of the surrealist lesson because I already had a foundation in 78 This is to say he had learned to be flexible with aspects of different groups of artists. Mir was able to freely pick and choo se what he wanted to adapt and avoid from Surrealism because, as he said many times, he did not want to be subjected to the rules of an ism Other instances of emerging rebellion in his painting can be seen in his Dutch Interiors series 1926 ( Figure 2 7 S pring 1928 T wo notable qualities capture d his growing interest in the subversion of traditional artist ic procedures in this painting. First, thoug h the work of seventeenth century masters had made an impression on Mir, the paintings in this series were based on postcards purchased by the artist and brought home. Though certainly not as aggressive as Dada leader Marcel Duchamp, certain para llels can L.H.O.O.Q 1919 ( Figure 2 8 ), and these paintings. In the groundbreaking exhibition catalogue, Joan Mir Painting and the Antipainting a rt historian 77 Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006 ) 27 78 Discovering Child Art: Essays on Childhood, Primitivism, and Modern ism, edited by Jonathan Fineberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 206.


40 Anne Umland argued that is comparable to the Dada Mir used them mostly as a point of departure. 79 Additionally, the Dutch Interior series marked the beginning of the artist work, stripping it of its authorship This was the beginning of Mir attacking himself as well as Western art at large. 80 In the case of Dutch Interior I his victim was the original painting, The Lute Player Hendrick Martensz, 1661 ( Figure 2 9) Second Mir was never a fan of preliminary sket ches. He believed they were based on the private language of an artist. Working directly on the canvas without preliminary sketches enabled him to stumble upon an image recognizable to all instead of carefully crafting an image with specific ele ments and restricting its interpretation 81 Chapter 4 shows that Mir was a fan of fortuitous accidents and at times used small general sketches for his murals but refrained from planning every detail out. This strat egy was akin to automatism as automati sm also attempted to free vision from the structures of civilization or individual personalities through the elimination of a plan. T he existence of preliminary sketches for this series and the superimposed grid for accurate spacing in the drawings suggest a playful mockery of the academic painting technique flowing forms d id not demand the precision of such a spacing system ( Figure 2 10) This is not to say Mir did not appreciate the artwork of past masters I nstead he felt he need to update them and make them relevant to the times. Destabilization was part of what Mir was learning from Dada and the Surrealist s and translating to his own artist ic practice 79 Mir the Assassin Joan Mir Painting and Anti Painting 1927 1937 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008) 10 80 Ibid. 81 Joan Mir Catalan Notebooks, (N ew York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1977),102.


41 Mir was not concerned with whether his paintings would physically last. Later in his life he said that painting s should never be end s in themselves but rather should be fertile In a painting, you should be able to discover new things each tim e you look at it. But you can look at a painting for a wh o le week and then never thing about it again. You can also look at a painting for a second and think about it for the rest of your life. For me painting must give off spar ks . Even more important that the painting itself is what it gives off, what it projects. It doesn painting is destroyed Art can die, but what counts are the see d s it has spread over the earth 83 I t is i n this light we must consider his pictorial language. The impact of visual simplification and the broader implications of the desire to transcend audiences constitute the foundation for his shift to collective media Cl early development. In his case, engaging with the recent past allowed him to come into his own, fully aware of where art stood at that moment in time. He was able to form his own ideas o f what amounts to successful art and how universality played into that. This type of research was indispensable to his choices in the late 1920s when he felt the need to reject painting and use collage and objects to destroy it. He described the assassination of painting project [1929 1936] in terms of antipainting, a term he heard during his engagement with the surrealists: Antipainting was a revolt against a state of mind and traditional painting techniq ues that we re later judged morally unjustifiable. It was also an attempt to express myself through new materials: bark, textile fiber, assemblages of objects, collages and so on Marcel Duchamp, these experiments h ad just as much to do with a kind of inner protest, a crisis of personal consciousness. 84 From this statement it is easy to see a connection between the project s goals and what became a preoccupation with universality Mir continued to exper iment with different medi a and that experimentation helped him refine his understanding of universality. A revolt against art 83 by Yvo n Taillandier, in XXe Si in Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 251 84 (Paris), November 19


42 traditions wa s the foundation for his universal aspirations and h is preoccupation with the goal wa s prevalent in his work for the rest of his career after this moment. When he returned to painting after the assassination years, he did so with a new purpose. He continue d to employ the visual language he developed but the significance of it no longer rest ed on its formal ca pabilities. Instead, at the turn of the 1930s when Mir used this language on his first major printmaking projects and first large scale mural, The Reaper 1937, the lessons he learned on univer sality were of the utmost importance. Without them he would have b e e n unable to expand pictorial universality beyond the confines of the canvas.


43 CHAPTER 3 MIR EXPANDING UNIVERSALITY It excit es me workin g in a team, these boys are my collaborators. They tell me 1 Joan Mir In the years during and after the Sp anish Civil War and World War II, Joan Mir committed himself to the exploration of printmaking. Unlike the former years of his career, defined by painting, the post war years saw a dramatic increase in his printmaking practice P perhaps because few have realize d the full significance of universality to his artistic agenda and the pivotal role played by prints in pursuing that agenda Sc holars have considered the later years his understanding of universality. However, none have pinpointed his attraction and commitment to printmaking as a phy sical turning point behind that commitment and as the bridge between his easel painting and the rest of his career. After his assassination of painting Mir was no longer interested in the ideal he called classicism, at least not as it related to painting Instead, the idea began to evolve into what he eventually refer red to as universality. Though he did not use the term until 1951, he was already interested in its central features as early as the 1930s: readability, accessibility, collaborative work, and anonymity. As we have seen, Mir made his vision for the future explicit. He was looking forward to a world where collective art forms reign and everyone is art literate. 2 anywhere could understand, then the next logical step in his overarching agenda wa s the 1 Indelible Mir Aquatints, Drawings, Dry points, Etchings, Lithographs, Book Illustrations, Posters (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972), 168. 2 Parisian Hunter, Intro. to Joan Mir His Graphic Work (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc.,1958), VIII.


44 distribution of that language. Thus, it is easy to see why prints appealed to the artist and why his intensive engagement with the medium marks a significant moment in his career. Such a shift would not have been possible without the iconoclastic and rejuvenating properties of the assassination of painting program of the late 1920s and early 30s, the essence of which stay ed with him for the du ration of his career. As we briefly saw in C hapter 2 the artist was making use of the lessons of the Dadaists and Surrealists. These groups championed nonconformity to Western norms in art. Mir was not shy about stating his discontent with art: I person intend to destroy, destroy everything that exists in painting. 3 To Mir, p ainti ng represented everything privileged in art However, in Jacques Dupin Dupin argued that Mir came to the conclusion that he needed to rescue art after his battle with it. 4 Mir continue d to disrupt tradition al creative procedures. However in the 1930s and onward this disruption was no longer a purely aggressive move, but ra ther a means to salvage art. universal goals which took their next major leap forward in printmaking, should be considered in this context. Mir now had the visual language he felt fostered a common understanding and the confidence and subversive experience to effectively begin expanding his notion of universality. The first step was translating his painting to a medium that could reach a wider audience. Notably, in the lat e 1930s whe n Mir fully immersed himself in prin tmaking, the p olitical climate wa s as highly charged with the looming Spanish Civil War as it was in the aftermath of World War I. This revived many of the same questions and problems regarding art and the society that values it, Mir may have experienced a sense of urg ency to expa nd his universality, 3 Joan Mir n Mir by Francisco Melgar. In Ahora (Madr Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 116. 4 Assassination of painting 1928 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993), 158.


45 which rested on the rejection of accepted artistic norms. I n prints Mir saw a new range of possibilities. Next it is important to king as a period of trial and error analogous to the previous moment of painting It is also necessary to explore the reasons behind his attraction to the medium in order to demonstrate commitment to un iversality. The medium gave Mir a rtist A 1951 interview for and where he thought his art needed to go next : 5 He subsequently claimed that he had gone through the indispensable experimental stages of painting, however, despite its val embrace it as a means to go further. 6 7 This is why prints appealed to him. In additio n to their ability to reach the masses and breed a common experience, prints could mimic prehistoric art, which he saw as pure in their anonymity by engaging in a collective process Mir also explained that paintings need ed t o remain unique expression s of the individual 8 With prints, one could be true to the medium while still exploiting its accessibility to the masses On the b roadening of his message Mir explained etchings and lithographs were easier to exhibit 5 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 217. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., 223.


46 9 Seventy five copies of his prints meant that message was increased seventy five fold 10 As previously mentioned, the artist saw artistic development as a long process B efore his prints could embody the listed qualities, he needed to become familiar with the procedure and comfortable enough to adapt and even violate it for the p urposes of his agenda. His earliest prints were done in the pochoir and lithographic technique, followed by drypoint and etching He then return ed to and focusing on his preferred method of printmaking, lithography. To reiterate, I s solidification of a visual language proved the first step in his overarching agenda. Once he had this tool in his repertoire, printmaking gave him the platform to disseminate his visual language. However, as with his journey through p ainting, he had to start at the beginning. After his earliest experiments with printmaking which were done at the request of others, he felt the need to begin again with black and white and work his way back up to color. Moreover, everything abou t the process appealed to him. His nostalgia for historical epochs was excited by the co operative nature of the workshop. Multiple hands producing prints ensured the work could be universally read as each participant brought a different experience and point of view With this method in place, only the image would remain of interest ; no t the artist Also, through prints Mir could extend his use of primitivism to achieve universality. In the 1930s p rimitivism evolved from simply formal elements to include the method of production As previously stated, Mir considered pri mitivism a broad term. It covered an ything and everything that fell out of the conventions of Western art history. We can infer tha t this includes nontraditional creation techniques I t is particularly interesting how Mir manipulates the 9 Ibid. 10 Yvon Taillandi 100.


47 modern technology of printmaking into something that resembles a primitive method, encouraging one to approach the surface in unusual ways. For inst ance, w hile producing lithographs Mir painted directly on a stone, even using his fingers instead of a brush or other utensil. With etching, which he considered more formal, Mir purposely disrupt ed the traditional process by using found tools such as forks and knives. 11 Similarly, on engraving the artist explained, At the beginning I was a prisoner of its constraints, its cuisine, I had to resist them, to extend them, and then an immense field of possibilities opened up to the eye and hand . The despotism of the tool was gradually vanquished. I can use an etching needle or a burin, my hand, a nail, or an old screwdriver. Likewise, I was able to free myself from the papers normally used and I pulled proofs on the most unusual papers. 12 Later on, he even revealed that he enjoyed printing on found or recycled surfaces akin to wall or cave paintings of the past. These comments capture the experimental nature of his technique as time goes by. His primitive process was based on rejecting established norms of the medium, seeing informality as more accessible than unquestioned techniques, such as using a burin. First we must the time needed before he was ready to fully launch himself into its processes. From early in his life, the artist was deeply moved by poetry. He was an avid reader of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Alfred Jarry and Guillaume Apollinaire. Poets taught him to break apart traditional syntax use images with shifting meanings, and use inverted metaphors 13 After 1922 he used these devices to create pa intings that were more reminiscent of a stream of consciousness than the carefully organized compositions of previous pictorial conventions He was also drawn to poetry for its spiritual 11 Indelible Mir 118 119. 12 Jacques Dupin, Mir Engraver I. 1928 1960 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.,1989) 7 13 Introduction Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 11


48 qualities and considered Surrealist poetry in the 1920s refreshing It is no coincidence that books. In fact, he continue d to read and participate in poetry book projects for the rest of his career and use d the lessons learned in poetry to transform his art His earliest known prints tait Une Petite Pie ( Figure 3 1) in 1928. 14 These prints are done in the pochoir technique, which requires a thin sheet of metal or cardboard to be cut as stencils for coloring. 15 The prints are simple and in most cases only use black disks, cones, crosses, ellipses and a rudim entary use of letters in keeping with the fundamental shapes he was working with. 16 Though the forms are reduced, they lack the implied narrative of his painting of the same moment. These samples show medium. For insta nce his hesitation can be seen in his use of a translator, Jean Saud. 17 At this sp eaks to Mir inexperience. Later when Mir bec ame fully invested in printmaking, including multiple people in the process had a completely different significance. In 1929 he illustrate d marking his first encounter with lithography H e was still relative ly indifferent to the technique because he did not take up the medium for his own projects. This change d as he bec a me fully aware of printmaking, specifically lithography and the vast possibilities it opened up 18 Two years later in 1931, Tzara 14 Joan Mir (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1984), 24 15 Ibid. 16 Jacques Dupin, Mir Engraver I. 1928 1960, 25. 17 d ez Surrealist Prints ed. Gilbert Kaplan, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997), 21. 18 Michel Joan Mir Lithographs Volume I, trans. Peninah Neimark and E.J.W., (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972), 22.


49 introdu ce d Mir to the cubist painter Louis Marcoussis an experienced engraver who ease d Mir into copper plate engraving. 19 I n 1932 Mir did his first etchings for realist poet Georges Enfaces 20 H is initial engagement with printmaking was not due to his own interest and thus, did not seem relevant to his artwork at the time. Mir executed his first drypoint print after he was commissioned by Greek publisher, Triade, w ho wanted a subject from the mythology of his country for the surrealist oriented publication Minotaure 21 The black and white print, Daphnis et Chlo 1933 ( Figure 3 2), depicts the mythical young lovers as biomorphic figures in a barren landscape. This dry point Mir work ed the burin as a pencil or pen on paper, endowing the print with the qualities of a drawing and foregoing the effects unique to the technique. In fact, this print was conceived as a drawing and subsequently transferred to the copper plate after a first draft was executed on a celluloid plate a more easily manipulated material 22 This apprehension before the medium continue d until about 1938 when Louis Marcoussi s encourage d Unlike his work with poet s like Tristan Tzara who wrote the lyrics for Mir to interpret, Marcoussis lent his physical hand to Mir allowing him to comfortably experiment and hone his new skills. One such print is Portrait of Mir 1938 ( Figure 3 3). The head and the hand were done by Marcoussis ; Mir step ped in to fill the composition with his whimsical cast of motifs. Marcoussis provided the foundation on which Mir could safely play with the various effects that can be achieved with etching without the responsibility of designing a fully cohesive 19 Dupin, Mir Engraver I. 1928 1960 8. 20 Ibid., 11. 21 Ibid., 21 & 87. 22 Ibid., 12.


50 composition on his own. Overall, the print is a portrait of Mir both figuratively and literally as it depicts him in the center and also includes his physical touch. Marcoussis did not treat Mir as a lesser artist to mold in his image ; rather he encouraged Mir to maintain his own style. He was simply enabling Mir to learn about the medium for his own purposes In the end was such that after his tribute. 23 decision to stop signing his work and fro m his desire to remove the significance of the artist from the artwork d comfort with the medium Under Marcoussis wing Mir also create d du Gant 1938 ( Figure 3 4) and Srie Noire et Rouge Spanish Civil War the former is a direct holdover from The Reaper (1937) a mural for the Spanish Republican Pavilion. 24 I suggest th at Mir turn ed to his recent painting for one of his quotes the The Reaper reveals the figur 23 Indelible Mir Aquatints, Drawings, Dry points, Etchings, Lithographs, Book Illustrations, Posters (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972), 38. 24 This work will be discussed in more depth in the following chapter in the context of his murals. However, its this mural because he described it as the apex of the visual language he had developed. The mura l was somewhat of an aberration for the artist because it was a direct response to the Spanish Civil War and the turmoil of the period and thus a political work, something the artist did not do often Nonetheless, Mir was pleased with it as he thought the presented warrior could transcend time and speak to all conflicts of a similar nature. The Reaper also marks the of the Spanish Ci vil War and set a precedence for the next few years in which Mir will absorb the war into his art.


51 features ( Figure 3 5). 26 Similarly, little context is available. Building on the basis provided by the a more organized fashion. First, the artist buil t the background texture with a stippling pattern. This was most likely done with a tool called a roulette. On top of that the figure is drawn with strong continuous lines. The fuzzy nature of the lines is a result of the dry point technique which leaves behind minuscule collections of metal on either side of carved marks. Linear variation is seen on a series of squiggle lines in the bottom portion of the image These wavy lines po sitioning and the hatching that builds off of particular darkened spots along his body. The quality of a drypoint print depends on the condition of the plate. After multiple runs through the press, the plate begins to lose the tiny scraps of metal in th e initial lines of the composition the technique is so dependent on. Thus, drypoint is one of the least reproducible printing methods. This may be one reason for experimentation and under standing of how the medium worked was necessary to find that other techniques better suited his goals. Srie Noire et Rouge 1938 ( Figure 3 6) elaborates on the knowledge gained by the former prints ; but for the first time in his etchi ng practice introduces color at the suggestion of his old friend, Picasso. 27 The series begins with two plates in black and white followed by six plates printed with black and red ink. The result is an explosive capture of the horrors of war throu gh a modern lens. Next Mir switched to focus on lithography, his preferred printing method. Again drawing on the situation in Spain and the groundwork from the aforementioned Srie Noire et 26 The clenched fist salute has been a symbol of Catalan n ationalism si nce the 17 th century. Though it is not discussed in the present study, Catalan identity is a reoccurring theme in some of 1920s. There is a concentration of the fist motif durin g the Spanish Civil War. 27 Ibid., 12.


52 Rouge Mir created Barcelona Series his first lithographic series. Lithography was suggested to him by another cubist friend, George Braque. Mir explained that in 1939 that there was a panic. He was in Varengeville sur Mer when he ran into Braque who recommended that he buy transfer paper to draw on with a lithographic crayon. 28 up on transfer paper though he did not produce any p rints while he was still in Varengeville sur Mer. As soon the Germans launched their offensive, Mir quickly moved his family back to Paris to attempt to get on a boat to America. When that failed, they went back to Barcelona The project began in 1939 while Mir was in Barcelona but because Mir did not have immediate access to a printer it was not completed until 1944. Published by Joan Prats, a friend of the artist from childhood, the series included fifty litho graphs in black and white c onceived by Mir alone The series was published in one edition of only five copies. 29 Mir once again embraced the ongoing war and created prints showing the aggressive temperament of the situation. The series rev ive d and flowers However, the dark nature of their arrangement differs from paintings like The Reaper The ch aracters are not nationalistically proud nor does Mir typically differentiate between the Spanish and their enemies. Instead, they more closely resemble the Disasters of War series, by Fransisco Goya, another Spanish artist Mir was certainly a ware of. The Barcelona Series brings forward a savage version of humanity. The series does not have a clear narrative, a trend increasingly prevalent in his coming work. It simply presents fifty images of distress and tragedy leav ing viewer s to untangle the information in any order they see fit. In this sense, the 28 Yvon Taillandier, Indelible Mir Aquatints, Drawings, Dry points, Etchings, Lithographs, Book Illustrations, Posters (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972), 163. 29 Ibid., 166.


53 Viewers do not need to know anything about the political context in Spain to empathize with the im ages The artist use d two main strategies in the prints. In some he crowd ed the composition with formal elements An example of this is Plate III which overwhelms the viewer with a large the chaos of the situation. Figures of all sizes are pushed to the edges. Even with their rather simplified facial features, fear fills their eyes. Figures overlap, stray lines violate them ; even the seemingly random stippling, the result of placing sandpaper under the transfer sheet before rubbing it with the crayon 30 evokes carnage. The latter calls to mind the splattering of blood even without red coloring. Conversely, Mir present ed several uncluttered p rints to highlight a single scene of hostility. Plate XII for instance occupies the space without clutter. This print features a single large character with intimidating open eyes and animalistic teeth standing over a fallen body. The generally blank b ackground serves to focus attention on the unraveling scene and to endow it with a sense of immensity. The artist again returned to the strategies of primitives he had been working with in painting to create a powerful picture wit h so little information. These qualities include a hierarchy of scale, a conflation of body parts prototype. The former of these tactics suggests that the fallen person is a woman because of her triangular ski rt Although not explicit rape, a common occurrence in war is implied. Mir explained that between the years of 1 938 and 1940 he became interested in the realism of the situation in Spain 30 Indelible Mir 25.


54 made me feel that I ought to soak myself in reality 31 After his work on The Reaper which was painted b efore Spain fell under Fascist control, Mir had an investment in capturing the impact of tragedy 32 Generally speaking, in these prints both of the recently ended war s comes through. After this pro ject grew and he stuck with the medium because of its easily reproducible nature In 1947, three years after the Barcelona Series, he created his first color lithograph. The Frontispiece for Le Surralisme e n 1947 was designed to coincide with a Surrealist exhibition. It was one of five to be included in a volume alongside prints created by Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hrold and Wilfredo Lam. 33 However, his Large Black Figure 1949 ( Figure 3 7), commonly referred to as the culmination of his lithographic experimentation, truly captures the expansion of universality we have been discussing in that it combines the universal language from the C hapter 2 with a medium that allows it to reach the masses, while simultaneously subverting many of the rules of traditional art. Large Black Figure jumps out at the viewer in its subject and in its disregard for traditional procedural decorum. The image features three figures. One very large character dominates the center with the bottom of its torso and legs excluded. It is made up of a combination of black and white forms and lines. Standing in front of it is a second figure composed of only white lines Finally, in the top right corner another faint figure emerges out of 31 Joan Partisan Review New York, February 1948. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York : De Capo Press, 1992), 209. 32 Joan Mir Catalan Notebooks, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1977), 132. 33 Frontispiece for Le Surralisme en Joan Mir Lithographs Volume I, trans. Peninah Neimark and E.J.W. (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972), 104.


55 the darkness. The artist used a combination of liquid tusche and lithographic crayon to delineate the scene He then scratched away sections of the black i nk leaving white tracings against the black 34 Mir fully embraced the medium by not just allowing the white of the paper to show through but incorporating it i nto the fabric of the design. While he allow ed plenty of space to remain uncovered in his p re vious prints, here the blank stone was not a passive gesture ; quite the opposite. Mir use d the white to give the large figure an aura as i t emerges from the darkness but then also reveals the white out of the black ink with his intentional scratching away of the surface. Without this move there would be nothing but blocked color and the image would lose its effect. Similarly, the artist violate d the margins of the print. A strong outline along the edge of what should be a contained image hints at the usual practice of clean edges. However, Mir present ed the line so that his infringement is glaringly obvious. Drawn with the lithographi c him to have larger margins. 35 The line is breached on all sides. At some points there are minor infractions such as a single swoop or line At others like the upper left corner, there are more noticeable transgressions. Regardless, all violations were intentional and suggest hi s rebellion against traditional rules of production rehensive start in printmaking. In the beginning, he lear n ed This was the case with Marcoussis even though Mir maintained his stylistic freedom When Mir bec ame the leader he referred to his assistants as c ollaborator s. This implie d a less restricted relationship than one between master 34 Indelible Mir 57. 35 Yvon Taillandier, Indelible Mir, 93.


56 and apprentice, 36 The artist depended on his fellow artisans to offer their opinions and used their reactions as a gauge for the effectiveness of his prints. There is little to no evidence on which aspects of particular prints were done by but generally Mi r said he gave his helpers free reign with the backgrounds. 37 On another occasion would take care of the heavy lifting associated with the main f orms and he would come in afterward and go over the contours and bring the forms to life. 38 Regardless, what is important is that the images produced were the result of multiple hands. The a hugely important moment. This period continue d the subversive yet productive nature of his assassination of painting but focused its energy into the expansion of his universal aspirations This included leaps in procedural experimentation and an extensive involvement with his colleagues both in a medium that fosters physical accessibility The progress made during this stretch unquestionably inform ed all facets of his care er in the years to come. He never abandon ed prints though they be ca me less frequent as he move d into ceramics, sculpture and mural creation. His mature murals were hardly traditional and expand ed the creative methods pioneered in the printmaking medium. 36 Ibid., 168. 37 95 38 Ibid.


5 7 CHAPTER 4 MOVING TOWARD ANONYMITY Mural art is the very opposite of solitary cr eation. 1 Joan Mir, 1958 As we have seen the artist was reevaluating the status of painting In fact, from 1954 1959 he did not paint one painting. 2 In Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War Robin Adel Greeley argued that Mir felt he had reached the limit of the assassination of painting in 1933. his return was laced with the lessons learned during the recent aggressive critique. 3 he c ame off his concentrated engagement with printmaking. His intensified con cern for reaching the masses, experience working collectively and reaffirmed commitment to universality are among the most significant results of the previous years. The motivations behind and ult of this experience They represent the maturity of his universal aspirations. Murals appealed to Mir because they provided a new platform for his goals. In the 1930s murals emerged as a political too l. A prominent example of this included Guernica 1937 Guernica depicts the tragedies and suffering brought about by war and became a prominent anti war symbol. Mir was certainly aware of the aspect of the medium. He embraced it in his first mu ral, The Reaper which was exhibited along side Guernica. However, The Reaper was an aberration for Mir when compared to the rest of his murals. Mir interest in 1 My Latest Work is a Wall re Le Mir ir (Paris), June July 1958 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 242 2 Homage to Mir (New York: Leon Amiel Publisher 1972 ) 34. 3 ial Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006) 33.


58 the medium goes beyond its political implications. He was drawn to its ability to reach the masses through monumentality and the possibility of bringing in auxiliary artists. This become s clearer as we examine a selection of his murals, especially the ones predicated on the inclusion of ceramics. But beyond this, they foster the hopes of achieving anonymity. As we have seen, d his murals. By the end of the 1920s he had already forsaken the tradition of always signing his canvases. But murals allow ed f or the pursuit of anonymity on deeper level : Mural painting is determined by the architecture, by the surfaces -the forms, the volumes, the surfaces so that there can be a complete fusion of landscape, architecture and painting. F or that reason, it is completely anonymous and impersonal work. During great periods, it was always like this. The ancient frescoes were not signed by their creators. Neither were the pyramids. 4 This foregrounds his desire to return to an age before the a dvent of the decadence that plagued painting and reveals fusion with architecture as the key to anonymity and by extension universality. When Mir painted The Reaper in 1937, he was working in moment of extreme unrest in Spain. This context with aid of t he above comment demonstrates continued interest in reverting to a time before modern civilization and its problems Mir revealed the link between anonymity and universality in 1958: Anonymity has always re igned during the great periods of history. And today the need for it is greater than ever. But, at the same time, there is a need for the absolutely individualistic gesture, something completely anarchic from the social point of view. Why? Because a profoundly individualistic gesture is anonymous. By being anonymous, it can attain universality, I am convinced of it. 6 A seeming paradox was created by the emphasis Mir places on both individualism and collectivism or the current discussion what 4 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. Margit Rowell, (New Yor k: De Capo Press, 1992), 217 218. 6 by Yvon Taillandier. XXe sicle (Paris), February 15, 1959 Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 252.


59 is important is that Mir explicitly stated his belief that anonymity led to universality He believed that part of what was necessary to achieve works of art that could be understood without context was t T his is significa nt w hen contextualizing his work with murals. Frescos exist ed as a type of preceden t to blending art and structure, a concept already established as integral to the pursuit of anonymity. Mir was no doubt thinking of this. He was influenced by the Catala n frescos of the Middle Ages and his good friend and known architect Jos Luis Sert confirmed that Mir was always on the lookout for a technical method that might resemble the nature of frescos 7 Unlike the frescos of the past murals were not designed to promote a particular message or serve an edifying purpose Instead, his murals were open ended and left it up viewer s whether they wanted to find meaning in them mural, The Reaper 1937 ( Figure 4 1) promoted a nationalistic message because the context of its creation and location required this ; his later murals d id not promote an explicit message The subject matter of The Reaper categorizes it as the exce ption to the rule. Because it was created for a political setting, it engendered a range of emotions including, patriotism outrage, fury and agitation The mural was a essentially a call to arms. Also, the stance of the warrior and its allusion to the Bib lical grim reaper 8 is yet another of its problematic qualities in terms of ultimate goals laid out in this discussion made for specific commis sions as j ust commissioned me to decorate the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 Exposition. Only Picasso and I 7 Duncan Ma Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 101 102. 8 Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 22.


60 9 The Reaper allow ed Mir to engage with a medium he had not yet worked with. The mural hints at some of the future tactics of the artist The near 10 year gap between this introductory mural and his next one is also noteworthy Consider ed in the context of the paintings and prints we have already discussed, it is evident t hat the decade between the murals was a period when the artist continu ed to expand his understanding of universality and to refine his goals. This may also account for his later creations being a departure from the first. T herefore, it is important to begin with The Reaper to understand how the artist approached this initia l project. Though it was laced with the tension of a looming war, the World Fair of 1937 in Paris was the last major event in Europe before World War II. 10 The Reaper was created for the Spanish Republican Pavilion It synthesize d in painting through the 1930s and present ed an opportunity to see how the pictorial sign language and the primitive strategies he experimented with come together in a mature form. Now lost, this monumental painting was a sort of anomaly for the artist, as he very rarely openly addressed the political issues of his country nor did he believe that artists could intervene in current events. 11 However, Mir said that if a current event were significant enough, the artis t would be drawn to it. 12 He explained, of course I intended it as a protest. The Catalan present is a symbol of the strong, the 9 To Pierre Matisse. Paris, 98 Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, April 25, 1937, in Margit Rowell, ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 252. 10 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgr afa, S.A., 1993), 151. 11 Joan Mir: The Ladder of Escape (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 37. 12 Margit Rowell ed. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 154.


61 independent, the resistant. The sickle is not a communist symbol. tool of his work, and, when h is freedom is threatened, his weapon. 13 This image focuses on the bust of a single figure seen in profile with all the a ttributes o f the Catalan fighter, nationalistically proud and ready for battle. The Reaper distorted and stripped to their bare recognizable essentials. Elements are color blocked to show mass and at tributes such as the sickle, cap and star are defined solely by their contours. Mir placed an importance on senses, presenting the eye, ear, and hand clearly and largely. These exaggerated features are in keeping with past paintings like The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) The red cap, a known symbol of Catalan identity, sits on his head. An exaggeratedly long neck parallels the adjacent outstretched arm. Crowning the arm is a tightened fist in the Republican salute, while the other hand holds a raised sickle ready to engage an off the plane enemy. 15 This figure is defiant and ready. Naturalistic colors are not employed and the background generally lacks contextual characteristics again pointing to the figure as the focus. The Reaper was created in sit u and as with his painting Mir did not use preparatory drawings for it. At times he consider ed pieces of paper stashed in his pockets with rough outlines but that was the extent of it 16 He may have had an idea of what he was going to create but had no idea how he would go about it. He explained wild mad man, and it was twenty feet high. I made a few very rough, insignificant sketches, and 13 A Talk in Marko Daniel and Mathew Gale The Tipping Point: 193 4 9 Joan Mir: The Ladder of Escape (Lond on: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 86 15 16 151.


62 then just tackled the canvas head on, at the risk of breaking my neck. 17 This method was in keeping with his rebellious motives as it quotes the Surrealist practice of automatism, but does not entirely follow its rules. As Greeley argued, the source of the image wa s unconscious creativity s fit perfectly into its display context suggesting a level of consciousness. 18 This was first large scale project that demanded a group effort Just as in his printmaking practice, io n and their exchanges gave Mir a degree of accountability to make sure the mural did not reflect a purely personal expression conditions of The Reaper and claimed that it gratified a hunger fo r collective work not fully realize d for another decade. 19 In December 1946 Mir received a commission for his second mural for the Gourmet Restaurant on the top floor of the new Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio ( Figure 4 2 ). He enthusiastically accepted the commission and rented a studio in New York City to complete it and show it at the MoMA before installing it in Cincinnati in early 1948. He chose New York over Cincinnati because the opportunity presented itself to shar e a studio with another artist, Carl Holty Mir could not pass up the benefits of such an intellectual exchange. Though he elected to work in New York, the mural was conceived with its eventual home in mind. It was slated to be put in a circular room and cover one t hird of the walls; the other two thirds w ere glass windows opening to the sky. The ten by six meter mural was only visually interrupted by one column. The 17 Joan Mir Catalan Notebooks, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1977),102. 18 Greeley, 19


63 base of the mural was cerulean blue to continue the where the sky le ft off. The composition sports red, orange, white and black figures and non figural color focal points. Narrative is not important in the Terrace Place Hotel mural. Contemporary critic Jos Gmez Sicre interviewed Mir in 1948 regarding it. To his disappoi ntment, Mir refused to offer any sort of holistic interpretation. Gmez Sicre explained, simplicity, Mir refuses to talk about his work and avoids making the slightest comment on its significance . Mir refused to offer any interpretation of his work except to proclaim his non submission to any cannon whatsoever. 20 The mural purpose then was to blend with the architectural space for the enj oyment of the crowd. It was predicated on its setting Its iconography fit with the modern ity of the skyscraper that housed it and its palette careful ly considered its total surrounding. Sert who worked with Mir a decade earlier on the Span ish Nation Pavilion said of this mural : architectural spaces, providing points of tension and visual accents. It can work with the 21 To his pleasure, Mir was moving toward anonymity by the merger of art and architecture. as stated in the Mir monograph o the overall development of This is true, save that the w ork provides proof that the artist style is perfectly suitable for large surfaces 22 In favor of the mural, Dupin does add that 20 Jos Gmez Right Angle 1 no.10 (January 1948): 10. as cited in Judith Mir in America (Houston: The Museum of Fine Art s, Houston, 1982), 58. 21 V ast S Mir, Sert correspondencia 1937 1980 as cited in Iria Candela, Joan Mir (London: Tate, 2011), 22. 22 d Paris 1947 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993), 276.


64 normally this would be an unnecessary enlargement however here the style stands strong agai nst the structural demands of the wall. 23 I disagree with the level of importance applied universality. His style, which wa is honed and its fusion with the structure and public setting as well as its collaborative creation speak s volumes to cannot be discounted as insignificant. The mural was favorably received though it had a short lifespan in situ as the bustle of the restaurant took its toll It was later relocated to the Cincinnati Art Museum for preservation As a result of the favorable reception of the Terrace Plaza Hotel mural, Mir was awarded several more commissions. Among them were a mural for the Solom o n R. Guggenheim Museum and one for the Harkness Law School dining room at Harvard University. Th e latter was done under the suggestion of architect Walter Gropius and also fell into disrepair and had to be moved to a museum for preservation. Mir offered to replace the H arvard mural with a ceramic version which still stands in its origi nal location today. In 1955 Mir created two murals for the UNESCO building in Paris. In this ca audience was of the utmost importance. As we have seen, Mir conjunction with the events of the Spanish Civil War and World War II left a deep impression on the artist ambition to redeem art wa s realized on a new level for this project conclusion. Among its stated objectives, UNESCO constitution states, That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed . That the wide diffusion of culture, and 23 Ibid.


65 the education of human ity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfill in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern . For these reasons, the States Parties to this Constitution, bel ieving in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peo ples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of 24 In addition to the political implications of promo t ing freedom and human rights something Mir wou ld have been sympathet ic toward their goals to educate, especially with respect to culture goes along with vision for a future in which everyone can understand art and participate in its creation The UNESCO project took a little more than 2 years to complete and th e results were 2 rather large free standing walls covered with painted ceramic tiles set at a 90 degree angle from one another. One is titled Wall of the Sun 1957 58 ( Figure 4 3) and the other Wall of the Moon 19 57 58 ( Figure 4 4). The murals were done in conjunction with experienced ceramist Josep Llorens Artigas and a team of helpers. The undertaking realize d universality as it we lcomed the collective effort I t deemphasize d the importance of a single artist but embraces the uniqueness of his style and pushe d the traditional limits of the medium, involve d the public and was conscious of its architectural setting. Before beginning the mural Mir spoke to the architects to get a feel for the building and understand what the structure demanded of him. Mir decided he wanted something that would fit into the setting and also provide a harmonious contrast. As a way of reacting against the huge cement su rfaces that would surround it, the idea of a bright red disk began to emerge from the wall. Its counterpart on the smaller wall would be a blue crescent because of the narrower, more intimate 24 accessed February 12, 2014, us/who we are/history/constitution/.


66 space it would occupy. These two forms, which I wanted to be ve ry brightly colored, would be further enhanced by hollowing them out. Certain details of the construction such as the design of the windows, inspired checkered patterns and the shapes of the figures. I wanted a brutal kind of expression for the large wall, a hint of something more poetic for the small one. 25 Mir and Artigas visited several sites for inspiration. First they went to see the Romanesque Church of Collegiata at Santillana del Mar They went to Altamira to see the prehistori c painting Then they went to Barcelona to view early frescos at the Catalan Museum of Art 27 The crescent moon symbol is very clear as is the large red disk as the sun. The three line related iconography. The rest of the composi tion is debatable. One could discern a hominoid figure or two on the Wall of the Sun hunting with a bow and arrow. On the Wall of the Moon lines extending from a black color blocked object, recall his early paintings ex perimenting with the representation of physical movement. The visual language is tied to the primitive resources researched in his early career and to his recent trip to study cave paintings. Additionally, Mir spoke to one of the three UNESCO architects Marcel Br e uer who he said had planned the building according to the arc of the sun Similarly, in terms of context of the UNESCO site, it is not a stretch to suggest that Mir saw the sun as a symbol of hope for a new world of social and cultural harmony. 29 Mir incorporation of the sun reflects 25 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1 993), 395. 27 Mir trans. Robert Erich Wolf (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 1984), 132. 29 Mir in America (H ouston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982), 104.


67 captures goal of total integration with the space. 30 Mir wanted the murals to be come completely absorbed in their setting both in their design and physical presence. Mir was no stranger to revisions and experim entation. He embraced these moments as teaching opportunities. In that vein, when Artigas did the first firing of 253 tiles, he called Mir to inform him of his dissatisfaction with the result. Together they realized they ne eded to scrap the regularity of the blocks they initially appropriate d and opt for different sized ones to emulate the irregularity of the stone walls on the Romanesque church. 32 They also changed their already unusual firing formula for the second attempt. Once they had the tiles Mir stepped in to paint. The expansiveness of the surface proved somewhat of a challenge as he was concerned that some gestures needed to remain uninterrupted to preserve the integrity and dynamism of the desired composition. In the spirit of all of his previous disregard for procedural decorum, Mir picked up a broom made of palm fronds. Mir said grab the broom and begin to trace the five to six meter long motifs with the good possibility that 33 The size and material presented other obstacles First, the painting portion was more like guess work because it was la id down on the ground and they could not view it in its entirely from the right distance. Also, the firing was unpredictable and the result could deviate from their expectations. Though just as before, Mir was attracted to it for its unpredictability as its potential deadliness to their progress endowed it with more expressive value. The last of 34 firings took place on 29 May 1958. In the end the team used 25 tons of 30 Ibid. 32 Derrire le Meroir (Paris), June Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 244. 33 Ibid, 245.


68 wood, 4,000 kilograms of clay, 200 kilograms of enamel, and 30 kilograms of color 34 The murals were very well received by the public and critics and were awarded the Guggenheim International Award of the Guggenheim Foundation in 1958. This program bec a me foundational architectural integration inspire d him to try other approaches. Examples include the Ramblas pavement in Barcelona 1976 ( Figure 4 5) and a set of stained glass win dows for the Choir of the Saint Frambourg Chapel in Senlis, France 1986 87 ( Figure 4 6). The former was made of vitrified brick and located in a hub of social life. It is at ground level and people walk across it not around it. interpretations of his work. In fact, when prompted he would not discuss its significance for fear of casting his own views on the art, corrupting it for individual viewers 35 Instead, he reiterate d his overarching goals. Mir left it to the individual to determine his or her own level of engagement with it. Some choose to read a narrative in it or completely ignore i t. Mir puts it in the viewers path, the rest is up to them. The UNESCO project was a highly significant marker in Mir s career. It broke his art out of the prison of museums and galleries. Its outdoor location defie d the natu re of easel painting as it disregard ed it s own preservation Exposure to the elements is part of its life. The murals belong to the people and these circumstances underscore their availability. Similarly, this support ed ty. Inspired by monuments of the past, the artist sought to remove any significance of his biography or knowledge of the circumstances of the mural creation The fact that this project was done for UNESCO adds a laye r of legitimacy to his 34 Ibid. 35 Jos Gmez


69 purpose. A s the keepers of culture UNESCO and their efforts to preserve world heritage sites link Mir to the very past he has been channeling This project, like the other turning points i n his career discussed, synthesize d all the knowledge gained up to that point. Th e ceramic murals were the ultimate platform for Mir universality


70 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION early painting hints at his growing passion for universality and the assassination of painting project represent ed his first moment of open rebellion. However, there wa s an equally significant occu rrence when Mir turn ed to printmaking and integrate d the essence of his assassination of painting ideas with his evolving concern for universality. After years focused on printmaking Mir never again shie d away from his subver sion of traditional techniques and desire to reach the masses through anonymous works of art. However, a significant paradox arises Mir spen t much of his career moving toward anonymity but all the while his level of fame gr ew He acknowl edged this issue : 1 How with his fame and highly recognizable style ? Mir said, 2 Th us, it is apparent that Mir was not concerned with his style being highly r ecognizable. Instea d of trying to hide his style, his style should be considered in terms of its greater objectives. Mir reconciled his recognizable style and desi re for anonymity with his stated objectives and creative process. He believed profoundly individualistic gestures were necessary to obtain universality. 3 By profoundly individualistic gestures he meant his individual style. Mir did not 1 Ibid, 253. 2 Mir trans. James Petterson (Barcelona: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993), 395. 3 This exce r pt was discus sed in the previous chapter. The most relevant selection is reproduced below B ut, at the same time, there is a need for the absolutely individualistic gesture, something completely anarchic from the social point of view. Why? Because a profoundly indivi dualistic gesture is anonymous. By being anonymous, it can attain universality, I am convinced of it. XXe


71 say anonymity requ ired one to become completely characterless. In fact, he said just the opposite but in a 4 One way to balance a highly recognizable style and anonymity then is in terms of the purpose the style serves which in this case was universality Mir also used collectivity as a strategy to deal with this paradox. He recognized that working with colleagues was one way to tap into a shared universal experience. In th biography bec ame somewhat less important. M ir claimed, This taste for anonymity leads to collective work. That is why doing ceramics with Artigas interests me so much. I do my prints wit h a team of master printers and assistants. They give me ideas, and I have complete confidence in them, but all this is impossible if you want to be a star. 5 Mir was not interested in becoming a household name. If his statemen ts convince us we can see he did not create art to establish himself as an artist ; he created art to return it to the people. He depended on his collaborators and trusted them to keep his agenda on track. Without a system of checks and balances he felt he could fall back into the trappings of art created simply for personal expr ession. There is an inherent irony when considering Mir path to anonymity. By examining him at all we emphasize the context he wanted to shed and further elevate him as an individual artist. It is hard to imagine he did not know his agenda was imposs ibly utopian. However, in considering the record he left of his goals and his artwork we can see that Mir was not simply concerned with the success of his goals, but rather the path to achieving them The intention of sicle (Paris), February 15, 1959 Joan Mir Selected Writings an d Interviews ( New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 252. 4 Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: De Capo Press, 1992), 220 5 Ibid.


72 my study was to show by trackin g his interest in universality, how Mir came to this dilemma and how he grappled with it


73 APPENDIX FIGURES Figure 2 1: Joan Mir, Standing Nude 1918. Oil on canvas. 60 1/4 x 47 1/2 in. The Sain t Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri. From: The Saint Louis Art Museum¤trecord=1&page=searc h&profile=objects&searchdesc=joan%20miro&quicksearch=joan%20miro&newvalues=1&news tyle=single&newcurrentrecord=1 (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 2: Henri Matisse, Blue Nude 1907. Oil on canvas. 36 1/4 x 55 1/4 in. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland. Available from: ARTstor,|search|6|All20Collection s3A20bl ue20nude2C20matisse|Filtered20Search|||type3D3626kw3Dblue20nude2C20matisse26geoIds3D 26clsIds3D26collTypes3D26id3Dall26bDate3D26eDate3D26dExact3D26prGeoId3D (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 3: Pablo Picasso, 1907. Oil Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 4: Joan Mir, The Farm 1921 22. Oil on canvas. 48 3/4 x 55 5/8 x 1 5/16 in. The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. From: National Gallery of Art http://www.nga. gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art object page.69660.html (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 5: Joan Mir, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) 1923 24. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 6: Joan Mir, Dog Barking at the Moon 1926. 28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From: The Philadelphia Museum of Art|1 (accessed M arch 1, 2014). Figure 2 7: Joan Mir, Dutch Interior I 1926. 36 1/8 x 28 3/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, http://www (accessed March 1, 2014).


74 Figure 2 8: Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q. 1919. Readymade. 19.7 cm. Minneapolis College of Art and Design Collection, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Available from: AR Tstor,|search|6|All20Collections3A20D uchamp20L2EH2EO2EO2EQ2E2C2031393139|Filtered20Search|||type3D3626kw3DDuchamp2 0L2EH2EO2EO2EQ2E2C2031393139 26geoIds3D26clsIds3D26collTypes3D26id3Dall26bDate 3D26eDate3D26dExact3D26prGeoId3D (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 9: Hendrick Martensz, The Lute Player 1661. Oil on canvas. 52 x 39 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Available from ARTstor:|search|6|All20Collections3A20T he20Lute20Player2C2022and2220Hendrick20Martensz|Filtered20Search|||type3D3626kw3DThe 20Lute20Player7Call2 3and2CHendrick20Martensz7Call26geoIds3D26clsIds3D26collTypes3D2 6id3Dall26bDate3D26eDate3D26dExact3D26prGeoId3D (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 2 10: Joan Mir, Final Study for Dutch Interior I Summer 1928. 24 5/8 x 18 5/8 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 1: Joan Mir, Untitled, in the book tait Un e Petite Pie. 1928. Pochoir on Japanese vellum paper. 12 5/8 x 9 3/4 in. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California. Available from: ARTstor l#3|search|6|All20Collections3A20!2 01!tait20Une20Petite20Pie|Filtered20Search|||type3D3626kw3D!201!tait20Une20Petite20Pie26 geoIds3D26clsIds3D26collTypes3D26id3Dall26bDate3D26eDate3D26dExact3D26prGeoId3D (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 2: Joan Mir, Da phnis et Chlo 1933. Drypoint. 26 4/5 x 23 1/2 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (acce ssed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 3: Joan Mir & Louis Marcoussis, Portrait of Mir 1938. Drypoint & engraving. 33 x 27 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 4: Joan Mir, 1938. Drypoint. 26 4/5 x 23 1/2 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Mo dern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014).


75 Figure 3 5: Joan Mir, The Reaper or Catalan Peasant in Revolt. 1937. Oil on celotx 216 1/2 x 143 1/4. Missing work. Available from: National Gallery of Art Mir, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 6: Joan Mir, Srie Noire et Rouge. 1938. Etc hing. 6 5/8 x 10 3/16. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From: The Museum of Modern Art, (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 3 7: Joan Mir, Large Black Figure 1949. Lithograph, Published by Maeght. 25 3/8 x 19 1/2 in. From: Taillandier, Yvon. Indelible Mir Aquatints, Drawings, Dry points, Etchings, Lithographs, Book Illustrations, Posters. New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972. Page 94. Figure 4 1: Joan Mir, The Reaper or Catalan Peasant in Revolt. 1937. Oil on celotx 216 1/2 x 143 1/4. Missing work. Available from: National Gallery of Art Mir, xhibitions/2012/miro/ (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 4 2: Joan Mir, Mural Painting 1948. Oil on canvas. 216 1/2 x 143 3/4 in. Commissioned for the Gourmets Restaurant, Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Av ailable from ARTstor,|search|6|All20Collections3A20m iro2C2022and2220mural|Filtered20Search|||type3D3626kw3Dmiro7Call23and2Cmural7Call26g eoIds3D26clsIds3D26collTypes3D 26id3Dall26bDate3D26eDate3D26dExact3D26prGeoId3D (accessed March 1, 2014). Figure 4 3: Joan Mir, Wall of the Sun 1957 From: Dupin, Jacques. Mir Translated by James Petterson. Barcelona, Spa in: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993. Page 394. Figure 4 4: Joan Mir, Wall of the Moon 1957 From: Dupin, Jacques. Mir Translated by James Petterson. Barcelona, Spain: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 199 3. Page 395. Figure 4 5: Joan Mir, Ramblas Pavement 1976. La Rambla, Pla de la Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain. From: Rose, Barbara with Judith McCandless and Duncan Macmillan. Mir In America. Houston, Texas: The Museum of Fine Arts, 1982. Page 108.


76 Figu re 4 6: Joan Mir, Stained Glass Window. 1986 87. Choir of Saint Frambourh Chapel, Senlis, France. From: Dupin, Jacques. Mir Translated by James Petterson. Barcelona, Spain: Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993. Page 399.


77 LIST OF REFERENCES Ad Concepts of Modern Art From Fauvism to Post modern ism edited by Nikos Stangos, 110 137. New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1994. Antreasian, Garo Z. and Clinton Adams. The Tamarind Book of Lithography: Art and Techniques N ew York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1971. Baum, Timothy, Riva Castleman, and Robert Rainwater. Surrealist Prints Edited by Gilbert Kaplan. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997. Candela, Iria. Joan Mir. London: Tate, 2011. Carmona, Eugenio When Mir Almost Met Picasso Picasso, Mir, Dal Angry Young Men: The Birth of Modern ity e dited by Carmona, Eugenio 115 144 Milano, Italy: Skira Editore S.p.A, 2011. Coddington, Jim, Robert S. Lubar, Jordana Mendelson, and Anne Umland. Joan Mir Painting and Antipainting 1927 1937 New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008. Combala, Victoria, Antje Von Graeventiz, Christa Lichtenstern, Sylvia Ma rtin and Stephan Von Wiese. Joan Mir Snail Woman Flower Star. Edited by Stephan Von Wiese and Sylvia Martin. Munich Germany : Prestel Publishing, 2008. Chu, Petra ten Doesschate. France during La Belle poque Nineteenth century European art edited by Sarah Touborg, 463 498. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006. Daniel, Marko, and Matthew Gale. Joan Mir: The Ladder of Escape. London: Thames and Hudson, 2012. di San Lazzaro, G., editor. Homage to Joan Mir. Translated by Bettina Wadia. Ne w York: Leon Amiel Publisher Inc., 1976. Dupin, Jacques. Joan Mir Life and Work. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1962. Dupin, Jacques. Mir Engraver I. 1928 1960. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1989. Dupin, Jacques. Mir Translated by James Petterson. Barcelona Spain : Ediciones Polgrafa, S.A., 1993. Dupin, Jacques, Robert S. Lubar, Thomas M. Messer, Joan Mir Donald E. Petersen, and Werner Schmalenbach. Joan Mir: A Retrospective. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987. Fineberg, Jonathan, editor. Discovering Child Art: Essays on Childhood, Primitivism, and Modern ism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.


78 Fineberg, Jonathan. Modern Artist. Princeton New Jersey : Princeton University Press, 1997. Greely, Robin Adle. Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War. New Haven Connecticut : Yale University Press, 2006. Green, Christopher, Kerryn Greenberg, William Jeffett, Maria Louisa Lax, Robert S. Lubar, Jo an M. Minguet Batllori and Teresa Montaner. Joan Mir: The Ladder of Escape. London: Thames and Hudson, 2011. Hunter, Sam. Introduction to Joan Mir His Graphic Work. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1958. Krauss, Rosalind E. and Margit Rowell. Joan Mir ; Magnetic Fields New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1972. Lanchner, Carolyn. Joan Mir. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1993. Leiris, Michel and Fernand Mourlot. Joan Mir Lithographs Volume I. Translated by Peninah Neimark and E.J.W. New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972. Lubar, Robert Cubism Joan Mir 1917 1934 edited by Agn s de la Beaumelle 52 59. London: Paul Holberton Publishing 2004. Malet, Rosa Maria. Joan Mir. New York: Riz zoli International Publications, Inc., 1984. Malet, Rosa Maria, editor. Fundaci Joan Mir Guidebook Translated by Joanna Martinez. Barcelona Spain : Skira Carroggio, 1999. Mir, Joan. Joan Mir Selected Writings and Interviews. Edited by Maragit Rowell. New York: De Capo Press, 1992. Mir, Joan Punyet. New York: Assouline Publishing, 2004. Palermo, Charles. Fixed Ecstasy: Joan Mir in the 1920s. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008. Picon Gatan,. Int roduction to Joan Mir Catalan Notebooks. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1977. Queneau, Raymond. Preface to Joan Mir Lithographs Volume II. New York: Lon Amiel Publisher, 1975. Rose, Barbara with Judith McCandless and Duncan Macmill an. Mir In America. Houston Texas : The Museum of Fine Arts, 1982. Stich, Sidra. Joan Mir: The Development of a Sign Language. St. Louis Missouri : Washington University, 1980.


79 Taillandier, Yvon. Indelible Mir Aquatints, Drawings, Dry points, Etchings Lithographs, Book Illustrations, Posters. New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1972. Accessed February 12, 2014. us/who we are/history/constitution/ Weelen, Guy. Mir Translated by Ro bert Erich Wolf. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 1984. Wye, Deborah. Joan Mir Black and Red Series A New Acquisition in Context. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1998.


80 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Roni Diana Ross was born and raised in Ho uston, TX. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN with a B.A. in Art History in 2011. She began to pursue her M.A. in Art History at the University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2012 and graduated in May, 2014. At UF, Ms. Ros s focused on nineteenth and tw enti e th century European painting and studied under Dr. Joyce Tsai and Dr. Melissa Hyde. Her other research interests include modern art historiography and modern architecture.

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Women, Art and Ideology: Questions for Feminist Art Historians* GRISELDA POLLOCK It ought to be clear by now that I'm not interested in the social history of art as part of a cheerful diversification of the subject, taking its place alongside other varieties-formalist, "modernist," sub-Freudian, filmic, feminist, "radical," all of them hot-foot in pursuit of the new. For diversification, read disintegration. T. J. Clark, "On the Condition of Artistic Creation," The Times Literary Supplement, May 24, 1974, 562. Almost ten years ago, Clark warned of a crisis in art history which was the product of the loss of a cogent historical project for the discipline and the result of its severance from the other social and historical sciences. He was, however, fiercely dismissive of several alternative tendencies being offered, which he designated pseudosolutions, themselves proliferating symptoms of intellectual desperation. These mere novelties, reflecting fashions in relevant but distinct disciplines, included literary formalism, psychoanalysis, film theory, and feminism. In this article I consider the question of how feminism, which has grown steadily in art history since 1974, positions itself in relation to both mainstream art history and its radical critiques. Criticisms of mainstream art histories are being made through what Clark designated for his own and others' work, the social history of art. A superbly summary, but accurate, assessment written many decades ago can be found in the review which Meyer Schapiro published in 1937 of A. H. Barr, Jr.'s Cubism and Abstract Art (Museum of Modern Art, 1936). Schapiro wrote: ... Barr's conception of abstract art remains essentially unhistorical. He gives us, it is true, the dates of every stage in the various movements, as if to enable us to plot a curve, or to follow the emergence of the art year by year, but no connection is drawn between the art and conditions of its moment. He excludes as irrelevant to its history the nature of the society in which it arose, except as an incidental obstructing or accelerating atmospheric factor. The history of modern art is presented as an internal, immanent process among the artists; abstract art arises because, as the author says, representational art had been exhausted.1 The obvious paradigm for a genuinely historical, alternative art history lies within those schools of thought and historiography which insist upon the social character of all practices, including artistic practice which is shaped by concrete social relations, and works within and on socially produced ideologies. The most sustained example is, of course, within Marxist cultural theory and historical practice. As a feminist I find myself obliquely placed within this debate. Inasmuch as society is structured by inequal relations at the point of material production, so too is it deeply founded on inequal relations between the sexes. The nature of the societies in which art has been produced has not only been, for instance, feudal or capitalist, but in historically varied ways, patriarchal and sexist. Neither form of exploitation, moreover, is reducible to the other. As Jean Gardiner has pointed out, no social perspective can remain innocent of the importance of the sexual divisions of society and still claim to be an adequate account of social processes: It is impossible to understand women's class position without understanding the way in which sexual divisions shape women's consciousness of class. . No socialist can ignore this question.2 The solution cannot lie in simply adding one approach to another with the concommitant danger of merely subordinating feminism to the more developed analyses of Marxism. Domination and exploitation in gender relations are not just a supplement to the more fundamental conflicts between the classes, even if it is difficult in practice to disarticulate them. Feminism in both practice and theory has exposed new areas of social conflict and has thus generated new kinds of analysis-of kinship structure and the family, of the construction of gender and our sexualities, of reproduction, of domestic labor and the employment of women and, of course, of the powerful place of cultural images in the cementing of the hierarchical relations between social groups and genders. Indeed, from the inception of the women's movement, one of the major targets of political activity has been the representation of women in advertising, cinema, photography, and the fine arts. Art history has a particular, if overlooked, role in all this. On the This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


40 Woman's Art Journal one hand, art history takes as its object of study a form of cultural production and ideology-art. On the other hand, the discipline itself is a component of cultural hegemony maintaining and reproducing dominative social relations through what it studies and teaches and what it omits or marginalizes, and through how it defines what history is, what art is, and who and what the artist is. For instance, the major figure in art historical discourse is the artist, the singular, solitary genius whose creativity is recorded almost exclusively in a biographical or autobiographical mode in monographs and catalogue raisonnes. This figure functions, however, as a social ideal, a complement to and embodiment of the prime bourgeois myth of the universal, classless Man. The myth of free, individual creativity is gender specific; it is exlusively masculine. We never talk of men artists or male art; if you wish to specify that the artist is female the term must be qualified with a feminine adjectival prefix. Recognition of this came early in feminist art history. Gabhart and Broun commented in their introductory essay to "Old Mistresses," the exhibition of art by women they organized in 1972: The title of this exhibition alludes to the unspoken assumption in our language that art is created by men. The reverential term "Old Master" has no meaningful feminine equivalent. When cast in its feminine form, "Old Mistress," the connotation is altogether different to say the least.3 Gabhart and Broun exposed the relationship between language and ideology, but did not ask why there is no place for women in the language of art history despite the fact that there has been a continuous tradition of women's practice in art. In Old Mistresses: Women, Art & Ideology (Pantheon, 1982), Rozsika Parker and I took up this question, feeling, moreover, that the neologism "Old Mistress" was still pertinent as a reminder of what is at issue. It is not a question of merely overcoming the neglect of women artists by art historians. The consistency and variety of women's contribution to culture has been adequately demonstrated in feminist art histories of the last decade. Investigating the nature of the obstacles women faced, listing the diverse forms of discrimination, though necessary, is not a complete answer. As Parker pointed out in a review of Germaine Greer's The Obstacle Race (1979): "It is not the obstacles that Germaine Greer cites that really count, but the rules of the game that demand scrutiny."4 We started from the premise that women had always been involved in the production of art, but that the historians of our culture were reluctant to admit it. Our research revealed that it was in fact only in the 20th century, with the establishment of art history as a widely-taught, institutionalized academic discipline, that women artists were systematically obliterated from the record. There is, however, considerable literature on women artists prior to this century and a certain amount of reference to women in modern art criticism. But this literature consistently employed a particular cluster of terms and evaluations which we labeled the "feminine stereotype." What was suggested unquestioningly was that all that women have produced bears witness to a single, sex-derived attributefemininity then justified a complacent judgment on women's innate inferiority in the arts. We pondered the meaning and pervasiveness of the equation between art by women and femininity, and between femininity and bad art, and concluded that the feminine stereotype was an important, structuring category in the discourse of art history. It is set up as a necessary term of difference, the foil against which a never-acknowledged masculine privilege can be maintained. The hidden sexual prerogative of masculine appropriation of creativity as an innate attribute of that sex is secured by the repeated assertion of a negative, an "other," the feminine, as the necessary point of differentiation and lack. We found, furthermore, that the foundations for this process lay in the social history of the artist and of the roles and positions of women. Tracing the history of the evolving concept of the artist from the 16th to the 19th century and mapping at the same time the changing social definitions of woman, we discovered that men and women had followed historically different and finally contradictory paths so that by the 19th century what was understood by the term woman (a passive dependent to be fulfilled through domestic and maternal roles) and what the artist represented (an anti-social, independent creator) were set in an antagonistic relationship. This conflict is expressed aptly by one 19th century commentator: "So long as a woman refrains from unsexing herself, let her dabble in anything. The woman of genius does not exist. When she does, she is a man."5 This polarization occurred during the formation of bourgeois society in the critical period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Just as we recognize in the modern women's movement that changing women's position is a challenge to the structure of society and will not be accomplished merely by the entry of a few women into top jobs and professions, so, too, we must devise an appropriately structural analysis for art history and its cultural myths. We concluded, therefore, that although women artists are treated negatively in modern art history, women artists and the art they produced nonetheless played a structural role in the ideological project of art history. To discover the history of women and art means accounting for the way art history is written. To expose its underlying assumptions, its prejudices and its silences, is to reveal that the negative way women artists are recorded or dismissed is functional in the perpetuation of the myth of masculine creative superiority and social dominance. A central task for feminist art historians is, therefore, to critique art history itself, not just as a way of writing about the art of the past, but as an institutionalized ideological practice which contributes to the reproduction of the social system by its offered images and interpretations of the world. Yet to date we felt that feminist art historians had refused this necessary confrontation with mainstream art historical ideologies and practices. Most have been content to incorporate women's names into the standard chronologies and to include work by women in the inventories of styles and movements. Liberalism within the establishment has allowed this unthreatening and additive feminism a marginal place at its conferences and in the pages of its journals. However, the truly critical femininity. This attribution of a pervasive and irrepressible implications of feminism for art history as a whole have been This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Woman's Art Journal 41 stifled and not allowed seriously to change what is studied in art history in general, nor how it is studied and taught. In 1949 Frederich Antal pointed out the kinds of challenges mainstream art history can and cannot accept, citing some concessions then being made to the demand by Marxist art historians for a greater acknowledgment of the social basis of art. These concessions were accompanied, however, by a stubborn resistance to anything that posed a fundamental threat to the twin cores of art history's ideology-the sanctity of the artist and the autonomy of art. Thus, discussion of subject matter was possible so long as it was limited to iconography, and the reasons for the artist's choice of that subject matter were not given in terms of real, living history. Study of working conditions could be undertaken so long as it remained detached and its implications were not used in the study of Great Artists. Social and political backgrounds could be mentioned so long as no real connection was drawn between them and art. Antal concluded that the last redoubt which would be held as long as possible was "the most deep-rooted nineteenth century belief, inherited from Romanticism, of the incalculable nature of genius of art."6 Antal's essay stressed clearly the social base and ideological character of art history, and the way he saw the discipline responding to the challenge of a social history of art 30 years ago is timely for feminism: The whole point of view of art historians, of whatever country or training ... is conditioned by their historical place. . And, in the same way they are conditioned in their step by step retreat and the concessions they are willing to make-not too many and not too soon-to the new spirit. Their resistance is all the stronger, their will to give ground all the less, the greater the consistency and novelty they encounter.7 Indeed, pluralism can be tolerated. What is refused and resisted strenuously is that which fundamentally challenges the image of a classless society with a naturally ordained sexual division, an image which art historians strive to reproduce and legitimate in the way they represent art (society). Rejected also is that which offers a different set of explanations of how history operates (dynamic social forces as opposed to unilinear evolutions towards the contented present), what structures societies, how art is produced, who and what artists are. Feminism in art history cannot afford-without betraying its political initiative-to remain merely a novel "approach" or "perspective" aiming to improve existing, but inadequate, art history. The struggle for knowledge is part of a broader political struggle, and contesting the dominant forms of social knowledge, be it in philosophy, biology or art history, is a necessity. The myths of an exclusively masculine creativity and of a feminine inferiority in art, i.e. in making images of the world anew, are part of the wider context of social definitions of masculinity and femininity and thus participate actively at the ideological level in reproducing the hierarchy between the sexes. In this section I look more closely at art history itself in lessons learned from related Marxist critiques of art history. In a useful introduction to his program for a Marxist art history, Nicos Hadjinicolaou identified the obstacles posed by the forms of current art history. These are art history as the history of artists (biography and monographs); art history as part of the history of civilizations (reflections of periods and their intellectual currents); and art history as the history of autonomous aestheticized objects.8 However descriptively correct, it is hard nonetheless to characterize any of these methods as historical. They do embody, however, bourgeois ideologies about how history, and thus society, functions. In the representation of the historical development of human society which evolved after the revolutions of 1848, 18th-century arguments that history is a process of contradiction, discontinuity and transformation were replaced by mystifications and what amounted to a denial of history. The bourgeois order had to refute the drastic social upheavals of which it was born in order to protect its rule from subsequent proletarian challenge. Organic evolution, recurring cycles, or a continuity of the same-all these views served to make the status quo seem inevitable. The bourgeois image of the world combines, therefore, both a repression of the real social conditions of its present rule and the necessary repression of any recognizable difference between itself and past societies. This is accomplished first by "modernizing" history, i.e. assuming a complete identity between the present and the past, and secondly by projecting back into the past the features of the present order so that they come to appear as universal, unchanged, and natural. This has special significance for feminist analyses. The fiction of an eternal, natural order of things is employed monolithically to ratify the continuing power of men over women. The justification for making women exclusively responsible for domestic work and child care is assumed to be the "nature" of women. Historically produced social roles are represented in bourgeois ideologies as timeless and biologically determined. Feminists have, therefore, a dual task: to challenge this substitution of Nature for History and to insist on understanding that history itself is changing, contradictory, differentiated. Futhermore, art history belies historical scholarship in another way. It often has nothing to do with history at all for it amounts only to art appreciation. Recent critiques of what literary criticism does to the history of literary production are helpful in alerting us to similar ahistorical tendencies in art history. The way in which literature is studied, as Pierre Macherey has pointed out, does not explain how literature is produced: it teaches students how to consume the great fruits of the human spirit. In initiating students into the mysteries of aesthetic appreciation, submission to the inexplicable magic of creativity is instilled. But paradoxically, while literature is being presented as ineffable, the text is usually stripped naked, an apparently hidden nugget of meaning extracted through the exercise of sensitive, informed criticism, the whole "translated" by the words of the critic who, while pretending merely to comment upon, in fact, refashions the meanings of the work of art in his or her own ideological image (i.e. modernizes it). These dual procedures do not encourage students to ask the relation to the feminist project and discuRs some of the important questions-how and why an art object or text was This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


42 Woman's Art Journal made, for whom was it made, for what purpose was it made, within what constraints and possibilities was it produced and initially used? For, as Macherey states: "In seeing how a book is made we also see what it is made from; this defect which gives it a history and a relation to the historical."9 Literary appreciation and art history as appreciation are concerned with positive and negative evaluations of artifacts. Careful gradations and distinctions are established between the major and minor, the good and bad, the eternally valued and momentarily fashionable. This kind of evaluative judgment has particular implications for women. Art created by women is consistently assessed as poor art. Take, for instance, Charles Sterling's explanation for reattributing a portrait thought to be by Jacques-Louis David to Constance Charpentier (1767-1849): Meanwhile the notion that our portrait may have been painted by a woman, is, let us confess, an attractive idea. Its poetry is literary rather than plastic, its very evident charms and its cleverly concealed weaknesses, its ensemble made up from a thousand subtle artifices, all seem to reveal the feminine spirit.10 And James Laver on the same painting: "Although the painting is attractive as a period piece, there are certain weaknesses of which a painter of David's calibre would not have been guilty." "Both Sterling and Laver have a norm of good art against which women are judged and found wanting. This establishes difference on a sexual axis and a different set of criteria for judging art made by women. To counter this kind of criticism of women's art, some feminists assert that women's art is as good as men's, it just has to be judged by another set of criteria. But this only creates an alternative method of appreciation-another way of consuming art. They attribute to women's art other qualities, claiming that it expresses a feminine essence, or interpret it saying that it tends to a central "core" type of imagery derived from the form of female genitals and from female bodily experience. All too familiar formal or psychologistic or stylistic criteria are marshaled to estimate art by women. The effect is to leave intact that very notion of evaluating art, and of course the normative standards by which it is done. Special pleading for women's art to be assessed by different values ensures that women's art is confined within a gender-defined category and, at the same time, that the general criteria for appreciating art remains that which is employed in discussing work by men. Men's art remains the supra-sexual norm precisely because women's art is assessed by what are easily dismissed as partisan or internally constructed values. These feminists thus end up reproducing Sterling's and Laver's hierarchy. I am arguing that feminist art historians should reject evaluative criticism. They should concentrate instead on historical forms of explanation of women's artistic production and consider the usefulness of Marxist paradigms. There has been considerable development with Marxist cultural theory in the last decades, particularly with regard to notions of ideology and representation. But there are also elements of Marxist thinking about art and society to be avoided, among them: treating art as a reflection of the society that produced it or as an image of its class divisions; economic reductionism, that is reducing all arguments about the forms and functions of cultural objects back to economic or material causes; and ideological generalization, placing a picture because of its manifest content in a category of ideas, beliefs, or social theories of a given society or period. All these approaches strive, however crudely, to acknowledge the complex and inescapable relations between one specific social activity-art-and the totality of other social activities which constitute the "society" in, for, and even against which art is produced. The problem with reflection theory is that it is mechanistic, suggesting at once that art is an inanimate object which "mirrors" a static and coherent thing called society. Treating art as a reflection of the society that produced it oversimplifies the processes whereby an art product, consciously and ideologically manufactured from specifiable and selected materials represents social processes which are themselves enormously complicated, mobile, and opaque. A slightly more sophisticated version of reflection theory is one in which art is studied "in its historical context." History is, however, too often merely wheeled on as background to artistic production, swiftly sketched in as a story which provides clues to the picture's content. The attempt to place the artist as a representative of a class outlook registers the need to recognize point of view and position in class society as determinants in the production of art. Even so, it involves considerable generalization. Hadjinicolaou, for instance, suggests that paintings carry a visual ideology. Artists such as David or Rembrandt produced works that can be read as embodiments of the visual ideologies of a particular class or fraction of a classart of the rising bourgeoisie at the end of the Ancien Regime, for example. Whole oeuvres or groups of works become unitary examples of a social group's singular outlook via the service of the artist. 12 But the inadequacies of this approach become evident when applied to women. Some feminist art historians treat women artists as representatives of their gender-their work is seen to express the visual ideology of a whole sex. This condemns women effectively to a homogeneous, gender-defined category which is exactly what the feminine stereotype of mainstream art history does. The process effaces the specificity and heterogeneity of women's artistic production which is shaped variously and historically by factors such as class, race, nationality, period, and patronage. Art is inevitably shaped by the society that produces it, but its particular features are not created by economic structures or organization. In application to women the poverty of the economic reductionists becomes obvious because women's position in the workplace is shown to be a complement to, an extension of, or even a product of the complex forms of exploitation women experience in the home, in sexual relationships, in child care duties, or on the streets as a result of sexual domination. The fourth element to avoid-ideological generalization-is a response to the inadequacies of reductionism. Relations between areas of intellectual culture occur, but it is not enough to make great chains of ideas linking social philosophies and ideas to movements in art (e.g. Positreating an artist as a representative of his/her class; This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Woman's Art Journal 43 tivism and Realism). Ideology is not just a set of ideas but a process of masking contradictions thrown up in the life of society. Ideologies are often fractured and contradictory. Referring art to ideology as ideas merely displaces the necessary study of what ideological work specific pieces of art are doing. The parallel to this approcah in feminist art history is to place what women artists produce in a singular category: women's art. While it has been necessary to reclaim that often pejorative category in order to insist that there is art made by women, it is also dangerous. It may lead us to believe that there are such unitary ideological categories as women's art, women's culture, or women's consciousness. To treat work by women simply as exemplars of some supposed essence of womanness is to reproduce a tautology which teaches us nothing about what being, doing, or thinking as a woman at different historical moments and in different social conditions might be. Society is a historical process and history cannot be reduced to a manageable block of information; it has to be grasped as a complex of processes and relationships. We must, therefore, abandon all the formulations such as "art and society," "art and its social context," "art and its historical background," "art and class formations," "art and sexual politics." The real difficulties which are not being addressed reside in those "ands." We instead have to deal with the interplay of multiple histories, of the codes of art, the ideologies of the art world, the forms of production, the social classes, the family and sexual practices whose mutual determinations and interdependences have to be mapped together in precise but heterogeneous configurations. Art is a part of social production; it is productive and actively produces meanings. Furthermore, art is constitutive of ideology, it does not merely illustrate it. It is one of the social practices through which particular views of the world, definitions and identities for us to live by, are constructed, reproduced, and even redefined. How this approach can be relevant for feminists was shown by Elizabeth Cowie in her study of women in film. For many feminists, woman is an unproblematic category defined by biological sex, by anatomy. For others, woman is not born, but made, conditioned by a series of socially prescribed roles. From these points of view, images of women in films are reflections or, at best, representations of those biological identities or social models. Films are to be judged, therefore, by the accuracy or distortion of that representation in relation to lived experience. It has, however, been argued that film has to be understood as a signifying practice, i.e. an organization of elements which produce meanings, construct images of the world, and strive to fix certain meanings, to effect particular ideological representations of the world. So instead of seeing films as vehicles for preformed meanings or reflectors of given identities, the practice has to be seen as an active intervention: Film is a point of production of definitions but it is neither unique and independent of, nor simply reducible to other practices defining the position of women in society.'1 and secures the patriarchal definitions for the category Woman. Cowie then argues that the term Woman and its meanings are not given in biology or in society but produced across a range of interrelating practices; the term has been constructed by concrete historical, social practices-for instance, familial or kinship structures. Cowie draws on Levi-Strauss's argument that the exchange of women between men is the foundation of sociality. The exchange of objects, which by their exchange are endowed with value and thus acquire meaning, institutes the reciprocal relationships and duties which are the basis of cultural (i.e. social) organization as opposed to the natural state.14 All culture is to be understood as exchange and therefore as communication. The most developed form of this is, of course, language. Language is composed of signifying elements ordered into meaning-producing relationships. Woman as a category is a product of a network of relationships created in the exchanges of females as mother, daughter, wife, sister in apposition to a concurrent production of man as father, son, husband, brother. If woman is a sign, then the meaning of the sign will always have to be determined within a system of relationships, i.e. within the specific organization of kinship, reproduction, and sexuality. Because the meaning of the sign is a product of social relationships it can alter, and because it can alter, it must be reconstrued repeatedly. Furthermore, woman as sign implies that woman signifies something other than female sex. When women are exchanged in marriage, for instance, the empirical signifying thing is a woman, a female person. The meaning carried through the exchange, by that signifying element is not femaleness but the establishment and reestablishment of culture itself, i.e. of a particular order of socio-sexual relationships and powers. Woman as a sign signifies social order. The category Woman is of profound importance to the order of a society. It is therefore to be understood as having to be produced ceaselessly across a range of social practices and institutions and the meanings of it are constantly being negotiated in those signifying systems of culture, for instance, film or painting. To understand the precise disposition of meanings for the terms Man and Woman and the social order based upon them, we have always to attend to the specific work that is done within and by a particular text, film or painting. At the same time, this formulation allows us to recognize the centrality and critical importance of the representation of woman in patriarchal culture-and hence to grasp the radical potential of its analysis and subversion. It thus becomes possible to redefine and refine the projects of feminist art historians. Women have not been absent from the history of culture but have spoken from a different place within it. The art they have made has been determined by the diverse ways in which they negotiated their specific situations as women and as artists at a given historical moment. In many cases they have struggled against the given definitions and ideologies of femininity and have resisted what has been expected of them. At other times they have worked within genres or forms which have been collusive with dominant ideologies. Moreover, artistic As such, film is one of the practices which actively constructs representations are not produced as passive reflections. In This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


44 Woman's Art Journal art, as elsewhere, we can discern the attempts to keep in place dominant ideologies about women and the order of the sexes. The relations between women, art and ideology have to be studied as a set of varying and unpredictable relationships. In Old Mistresses: Women Art and Ideology, Rozsika Parker and I tried to construct a conceptual framework for the analysis of women, art and ideology. We attempted to provide ways of connecting the specific histories of women artists with the ideologies and structures which shaped their interventions in art practice. In place of the traditional survey, we studied women's history in its genuine discontinuities and specificities in order to understand how the paradox of the present developed. Three examples drawn from the book explore those ideas. 1. ANGUISSOLA: ARTIST AND SOCIAL CLASS And even if Sofonisba Anguissola's contribution to Renaissance portraiture does not earn her a place in a Renaissance chapter, her historical impact as the first woman artist to become a celebrity and therefore open the profession to women certainly does. Ann Sutherland Harris, Women Artists: 1550-1950, 44. There are several points to remark in this quotation: Anguissola (1535/40-1625) is being given a gold star for initiative, for being the first woman in a profession, and for starting a linear sequence of women artists; she is an exception-unusual by virtue of her sex. As such she is being evaluated by special criteria reserved for women, for it is only her sex and novelty that can merit her an otherwise undeserved place in Renaissance art history. Anguissola was discussed by Vasari in Volume III of his book on his contemporaries, The Lives of the Most Prominent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1568). Why did he include her? As a novelty perhaps. That would be typical of an emerging strategy among men writing about women artists in the Renaissance. In an earlier text by the Italian poet Boccaccio, On Famous Women (1370), there is the paradox of an author who mentions several women artists-in his case from antiquity-but only in order to represent them as atypical of their sex, to create the idea that women and art are incompatible. Boccaccio states: I thought these achievements worthy of some praise, for art is much alien to the mind of women, and these things cannot be accomplished without a great deal of talent which in women is usually very scarce. The effect of the above is the same as that in Harris's analysis. Celebrity, novelty, exceptionalness are the myths made up by a masculine dominated culture to "frame" the facts of women's unbroken participation in artistic production. But this does not entirely explain Vasari's discussion of Anguissola. Some evidence may be gleaned from Anguissola's 1561 Self Portrait (Althorp, Northampton; Collection Earl Spencer). The artist presents herself seated at a musical instrument accompanied by her chaperone. She stresses not her artistic skills but the cultured accomplishments which Italian noble family of Cremona and was at the time of the portrait employed as lady-in-waiting and painter to the Queen of Spain. Artists from the nobility were uncommon, but the attributes of the artistocratic classes and their circles-knowledge and accomplishment-were coveted by artists wishful of severing themselves from the artisan class and becoming members of the educated and learned communities. Such aspirations were supported by a growing literature on the artist. For instance, Alberti fabricated the story that artists of classical antiquity came from elevated social classes in order to underwrite the ambition of contemporary artists. 15 This shift away from the conditions and class base of medieval art production had somewhat adverse effects on the practice of many women who had been hitherto involved in art production through households, convents, workshops, and family connections. Women's participation in family businesses and craftwork was further undermined in the new tradesmen's families where, in imitation of aristocratic fashions, women were withdrawn from commerce and supposed instead to be occupied with leisure activities, i.e. unpaid, in and for the home. But at the same time, in some aristocratic circles, new and favorable attitudes towards women's education were being encouraged within the literature of the courtier. These included training daughters of the nobility in several accomplishments, among them painting and drawing. It was in this context that Anguissola was able to exploit a complex of circumstances and make of her painting an occupation that gained her patrons and a place at the Spanish court. She presents herself as a member of the cultured elite; the chaperone and dress, the musical instrument and her playing signify the class whose attributes coincided at that period with the evolving ideologies of the new artist. It was therefore her class position that rendered her activity as an artist both possible and indeed worthy of notice and comment. Furthermore, a careful reading of what Vasari selects to mention about women aitists shows his concentration on precisely those features which accorded with the elevated social concept of the artist he was attempting to secure. This favorable coincidence for some women artists between class and artistic discourses was a historically determined conjuncture. It was compromised, however, by concurrent claims for an almost divine status for the artist, as second only to the Prime Creator-in Judeo-Christian mythology a definitively masculine persona. Moreover, at another historical moment, in the late 19th century, aristocratic and even haut-bourgeois connections were a disadvantage to women artists as both Marie Bashkirtseff (1859-1884) and Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) found. By then the relations between femininity and class were such as to bind women to the domestic performance of social duties in the drawing room in ways that were radically opposed to the public, professional sphere in which artistic activity was pursued. These two women's practice as artists was facilitated not by their class but by a quite different constellation of forces around the institutions of art training and exhibition-the impressionist and independent movements in art. However, the purpose of this discussion of Anguissola has been to stress the necessity for seeking out signify her class position. Anguissola was the daughter of an and understanding the conditions which favored women's This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Woman's Art Journal 45 art making as much as those which limited it, and seeing these conditions in real historical terms. II. ACADEMIES OF ART: NAKED POWER Most feminist art historians misunderstand the nature and effects of the constraints placed upon women artists in the heyday of the academies in the 18th and 19th centuries. The restricted access to academic art education has been represented as a major obstacle, an effective form of discrimination which prevented women from being able to participate in all genres of art. Admittedly the fact that women were excluded from the life class did prevent them from officially being able to study human anatomy from the live human model. For almost 300 years, from the Renaissance to the late 19th century, the nude human figure was the basis for the most highly regarded form of arthistory painting. Prevented from studying the nude, many women were constrained to practice exclusively in the genres of still life, portraiture, and landscape, genres considered less prestigious and thought to demand less skill or intellect. By association, artists specializing in these "lesser" genres were regarded as artists of lesser talent. Yet in cases where men, Reynolds (1723-92) or Chardin (16991779), for instance, practiced them, their abilities as artists were never questioned. However, from the point of view from which women artists have been assessed then and since, their concentration in these areas signified their inferiority. Take, for instance, this comment: Flower painting demands no genius of a mental or spiritual kind, but only the genius of taking pains and supreme craftsmanship. ... In all three hundred years of the production the total practitioners of flowers down to 1880 is less than seven hundred.... Whilst only a very small proportion are artists of the highest or even high merit. Actually more than 200 of these are of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and at least half of them are women.16 The academies' refusal to allow women to study the nude had an even more far reaching significance. Women could hire a nude model unofficially or get a friend or husband to pose. But as it was not acknowledged officially that women were involved in the making of major history painting, they were prevented from contributing to what those history paintings pictured. It was the men of the academy who determined what images were produced in the most prestigious and ideologically significant arenas of high cultural production. 17 Control over access to the nude was instrumental in the exercise of power over what meanings were constructed by an art based upon an ideal of the human body. Official exclusion from life classes ensured that women had no means to determine the language of high art or to make their own representations of the world, and thus resist and contest the hegemony of the dominant class or gender. Concurrently in the late 18th century, another development can be traced which was to create an even more rigid set of sexual divisions in art. Johann Zoffany's 1772 group portrait of the Academicians of the Royal Academy (Royal Collection) depicts the artists as gentlemen of learning assembled in the life room surrounded with striking a heroic pose. The official portrait fulfills both the necessity of document-we can identify all the sitters through the skillful record of face and feature-and of the ideal. The picture is 'of' the Royal Academicians, but the painting is about the ideal of the academic artist, about 18thcentury notions of the persona of the artist and about how art should be pursued and practiced-learnedly, with reason, and by men. There were two female academicians at the time, Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) and Mary Moser (1744-1819), both of whom are included in Zoffany's picture, but only by small portraits on the wall. In the interests of historical accuracy they could not have been omitted, but in the interests of the men-masked by pleading decency and propriety-they could not be seen to have access to the nude model. They are therefore excluded also at another levelfrom the idea of the artist. As paintings on the wall, treated with somewhat less detail than the other Academicians, they can easily be mistaken for part of the studio furnishings. Woman is thus represented as object for art rather than art producer. Indeed, close scrutiny of other written texts in which women artists of the period are represented reveals a growing discourse on the woman artist who is not the embodiment of reason and learning, but the spectacle of beauty, sexually desirable, an artistic inspiration-a In considering the conditions of womel's practice in the late 18th century, it is simplistic to argue that women were left out or discriminated against. Rather, the evidence suggests the active construction of differences, of separate spheres for men's and women's work, distinct identities for the artist who was a man-the artist, and the artist who was a woman-the woman artist. The category "woman artist" was established and the sexual discourse in art constructed around the growing hegemony of men in institutional practices and in the language of art itself. III. REVOLUTIONARY DEFEAT: THE BOURGEOIS ORDER OF THINGS Finally no biography will do her justice that does not take into account the historical context of her career, a gradually disintegrating aristocratic society of which she was an ardent supporter and for which her work, both written and painted provides an incomparable record. Ann Sutherland Harris, Women Artists: 1550-1950, 192. The passage above, which refers to Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun (1775-1842), exemplifies the kind of pitfalls that occur when history is treated as mere background and art as social document. It is indeed necessary to treat Vigee Lebrun as an historically interesting figure rather than dismiss her work as sweet and sentimental, her usual treatment when cited in art history books. But her relationship to the events of the 1780s and 1790s is neither clear nor simple. Vigee Lebrun was employed as Marie Antoinette's official portrait painter, and many of her patrons were members of the aristocratic circle around the court. In the violent struggles attendant on the Revolution of 1789, that class and the artists it employed were shaken momentarily. Vigee Lebrun's flight from France on the Revolution's eve examples of classical art and in the company of a nude model announced not so much her political loyalties as her fear of This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


46 Woman's Art Journal what would come of her professional and financial connections with the court, and after the initial upheavals, a petition was signed requesting that her name be removed from the list of proscribed emigres. Vigee Lebrun's career raises important questions about artists' relationships to social change, for artists do not reproduce dominant ideology passively; they participate in its construction and alteration. Artists work in and also on ideology. Vigee Lebrun's practice as an artist was shaped by the conflicting ideologies emerging in a period of radical social upheaval in which not only the structure of political power in society was dramatically shifted, but more relevantly, with the new class formation, women's roles were transformed. Vigee Lebrun painted many self-portraits and portraits of other artists. Comparison of her Self Portrait (London, National Gallery) in a silk dress and a hat bedecked with flowers that match the array of colors on her unused and very decorative palette with her painting of Hubert Robert (1788; Paris, Musee du Louvre) is instructive. In the latter portrait Vigee Lebrun prefigures the Romantic ideal image of the artist casually dressed in workmanlike clothes, unmoved by the creases in his jacket or the lumpiness of his cravat. Robert looks not towards the viewer, but at some unseen point of real or imaginary inspiration. He holds his palette and used brushes with easy confidence. At work and in private, the artist, self-generated, self-absorbed, dressed only to suit his convenience and work, is represented here as someone apart whose behavior is directed by the exigencies of artistic creation. Vigee Lebrun's image of herself as artist constructs a totally different set of concerns. Her dress is social and fashionable, her hairstyle and decorations set down faithfully. They add up to a picture of a beautiful woman, an overlapping notion of beauty and femininity entangled in dress, hair, skin texture, fabric, and the carefully organized interplay of artifice and nature. Moreover, she gazes at us, not asserting her look over ours, but rather inviting us to look at her. Everything from the shadow of the hat to the sweep of her welcoming hand combines to signify her existence for us, her presentation of herself as a spectacle for the viewer. In the gulf that separates the two paintings of artists lies what was to become in bourgeois society an insuperable distance between the notion of the artist and the notion of woman. In a study of late 18th-century genre painting, Carol Duncan charted the emergence of a new moralistic, emotionally charged representation of family life in which domesticity and the relationships between parents and children were not only presented as pleasant but as blissful. Responsible for this new treatment of mothers, children, and the family, she argues, was the development of the new, bourgeois institutions of the family and childhood, which replaced the ancien regime's idea of family as dynasty. 19The clearly differentiated roles for father and mother, the insistence on gratifying emotional feelings between members of this social unit were all constituent elements of what was, at that date, progressive bourgeois ideology. One of its most salient novelties was the cult of the happy mother, the woman fulfilled by childbearing and childrearing. However symptomatic of emerging bourgeois ideas this insistence on family and motherhood, it was not restricted to that class nor celebrated only in the domestic genre often associated with its patronage. Note for instance the portrait of Marie Antoinette and Her Children by Vigee Lebrun (1787; Versailles) in which the Queen is portrayed dandling a lively baby on her knee while a daughter leans affectionately against her and the heir to the throne plays with the baby's cradle. In a 1789 Self Portrait (Paris, Musee du Louvre) Vigee Lebrun showed herself with her daughter. The portrait is articulated across this ideological shift. The novelty of the painting lies in its secular displacement of the image of the Madonna with male child for a double female portraitmother and daughter. In her presentation of self, the artist doubly stresses the contemporary conception of woman. Partly revealed, smooth-limbed and beautiful, "naturally" coiffed, she is viewed also as an affectionate mother. The painting links the two females in a circular embrace, the child a smaller version of the adult. The mother is to be fulfilled through her child; the child will grow to be identical to her mother. By the 19th century, with the consolidation of a patriarchal bourgeoisie as the dominant social class, women were increasingly locked into place in the family; the category Woman was limited to those familial positions, and where women lived and worked beyond them they were penalized for it and treated as unnatural, unwomanly, unsexed. Femininity was exclusively domestic and maternal. At the same time a new notion of the artist evolved that associated the creator with everything that was antidomestic-the Romantic ideal of outsiderness and alliance with sublime Nature, or the Bohemian model of free living, sexually energetic, and socially alienated outcasts. The categorical difference of identity between terms such as artist and woman thus were historically produced within the social formation of the bourgeois order. The French Revolution, which established the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, was in many ways a historic defeat for women as it created the special configuration of power and domination with which women still contend. It is the history of its consolidation, i.e. of bourgeois social relations and of their dominant ideological forms that we need to analyze and subvert. Hence, the relationship of Marxism and feminism in art history cannot be a cobbling together. It must be the fruitful raiding of Marxism for its explanatory instruments, for its analysis of the operations of bourgeois society and its ideologies in order to identify the specific configurations of bourgeois femininity and forms of mystification which mask the reality of social and sexual antagonisms. Denying women vision and voice deprives them also of power. ? *The above is a shortened version of "Vision, Voice and Power: Feminist Art History and Marxism," Block, 6 (1982). I thank Deborah Cherry, Shirley Moreno, and Janet Wolff for reading and commenting on this article. I have freely used their advice. 1. Meyer Schapiro, "On the Nature of Abstract Art," Marxist Quarterly (January-March 1937), 77-8. 2. Jean Gardiner, "Women in the Labour Process and Class Structure," in Class and Class Structure, A. Hunt, ed. (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1977), 163. See also L. Comer, "Women and Class: The Question of Women and Class," Women's Studies International Quarterly, 1 (1978), 165-73. This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Woman's Art Journal 47 3. "Old Mistresses: Women Artists of the Past" (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, April 17-June 18, 1972). Catalogue essays by Ann Gabhart and Elizabeth Broun. 4. Rozsika Parker, "Breaking the Mould," New Statesman, November 2, 1979, 682. Reviewed also in WAJ (F '80/W '81), 58-64. 5. Cited in Octave Uzanne, The Modern Parisienne (London: Heineman, 1912). 6. Frederich Antal, "Remarks on the Method of Art History," reprinted in his Essays in Classicism and Romanticism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966), 175-89. 7. Ibid., 187. 8. Nicos Hadjinicolaou, L'Histoire de L'Art et la Lutte des Classes, (1973), Louise Asmal, trans. (London: Pluto, 1978), Chapters 2-4. 9. Pierre Macherey, A Theory of Literary Production (1966), G. Wall, trans. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), 80. 10. Charles Sterling, "A Fine David Reattributed," Metropolita Museum of Art Bulletin, IX (January 1951), 132. 11. James Laver, "Woman Painters," The Saturday Book (London, 1964), 19. For a critical study of those stereotypes see Cindy Nemser, "Stereotypes and Women Artists," Feminist Art Journal (April 1972), 1, 22-3. 12. Hadjinicolau, L'Histoire, Chapters 8-10. 13. Elizabeth Cowie, "Woman as Sign," M/F, 1 (1978), 49-64, 50. 14. Claude Levi-Straus, The Elementary Structure of Kinship (1949) (London: Eyre and Spottiswood, 1969). 15. See Margot and Rudolf Wittkower. Born Under Saturn (Oxford: Oxford University, 1963), for this history of the change in status and identity of the artist in the Renaissance period. 16. Martin H. Grant, Flower Painting Through Four Centuries (Lee-on-See, Eng.: F. Lewis, 1952), 21. 17. I found Cora Kaplan's work on women and their "intervention into the high patriarchal discourse of bourgeois culture"-epic poetry-very helpful on this point. In poetry women were likewise permitted to write in the lesser modes of lyric poetry or ballads and sonnets but the prestigious forms, like epic poetry were preserved for men; a woman daring to use the form was threatening to abrogate the power of public speech, the authority of her own voice for her own causes. See "Introduction" to the Women's Press edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's great epic poem on women and art, Aurora Leigh (London: Women's Press, 1978). 18. See for instance, Denis Diderot, Diderot Salons, Jean Adhemar and Jean Seznec, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University, 1957-67), especially Vol. III, or Elisabeth Vig6e Lebrun, The Memoirs of Madame Elisabeth Louise Vigee Lebrun, 1755-1789, Gerard Shelley, trans. (London: John Hamilton, 1927). 19. Carol Duncan, "Happy Mothers and Other New Ideas in French Art," Art Bulletin (December 1973), 570-83. GRISELA POLLOCK teaches the History of Art and Film at the University of Leeds, England. She has written books on Van Gogh, Millett and Cassatt, and is co-author with Rozsika Parker of Old Mistresses: Women, Art & Ideology. 32 Spring Street New York, NY 10012 "Y*llr? 'I i ?e .qq ,-?? i ? is CI is for everyone-makers, collectors, administrators, writers, publishers, gallery and shop owners, scholars-hungry for information about the worldwide scene of craft activity. WATCH FOR CI'S SPECIAL ISSUES ON AFRICA, CHINA, LATIN AMERICA PLUS NEWS, REVIEWS, GRANTS, TRAVEL AND MORE. Please send mle a one-year subscription beginning with the cuzrrent issue. Name Address Bill mze Enclosed D$12 in USA 0[$10 in USA City, Sta D~$16 outside USA fl-$14 outside USA Country te, Zip = E E . E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E TIE, WORLD ,--,-, -t-_--__,_P_-__ 14 bI~-~,-~~--~~-"5---I I This content downloaded from on Wed, 5 Mar 2014 21:31:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions