Joan Miro, Un Oiseau Poursuit une Abeille et la Baisse, 1927, 33" X 40" (oil, aqueous medium and feathers on glue-sized canvas).
A couple of weeks ago I went to an all day symposium on Miro at MOMA. It was on the occasion of the revelatory MOMA exhibition Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927 - 1937. (Unfortunately the show is over). In the exhibition the wall statements kept stating that these paintings were on raw, unprimed canvas, while at the same time the painting labels noted it was on glue-sized canvas. Likewise every participant in the symposium made the same mistake about bare, raw, unprimed canvas. I was annoyed because I felt it wasn't a trivial matter. That in spite of Miro's attempt at that time to "assassinate painting" as he put it, Miro clearly wanted to preserve the work. So at the end of the symposium I asked about it and luckily a conservator was in the audience and agreed with me. He also noted that Miro was careful how he applied the glue and that he felt (and I agree) it served an aesthetic function.
I have not been a great fan of Miro. I often feel his work gets silly. But this show knocked me out. You could see how during this period Miro systematically, ruthlessly and brilliantly, explored and tested everything that was essential to art. The resulting deadpan simplicity of the work was breathtaking.