Published: September 21, 2010
During a trip to the Netherlands in spring 1928, the Catalan painter Joan Miró (1893‱983) purchased postcards from the museums he visited. Two Seventeenth Century Dutch genre scenes particularly caught his attention and served as the inspiration for a series of paintings he created that summer.
The traveling exhibition “Miró: The Dutch Interiors,” which opened at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art October 5⁊anuary 17, features Miró’s three “Dutch Interiors” and the two Old Master paintings on which they are based.
The New York venue will also show preparatory drawings and additional paintings by Miró in the Metropolitan’s collection. This exhibition is the first in which Miró’s paintings have been hung alongside the Dutch Golden Age pictures that inspired them. The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
The exhibition brings together three paintings by Miró †”Dutch Interior I” (The Museum of Modern Art, New York), “Dutch Interior II” (Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice) and “Dutch Interior III” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) †that were based on two Seventeenth Century works in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. The Dutch paintings †”The Lute Player,” 1661, by Hendrick Sorgh and “Children Teaching a Cat to Dance,” circa 1660‷9, by Jan Steen †both feature a musician, an audience of one or more people, and a cat and a dog. When reinterpreted by Miró, the scenes undergo a complete metamorphosis.
When Steen’s humorous genre scene was transformed into the imaginative “Dutch Interior II,” Miró enlarged and focused on the animate figures †both human and animal †while deemphasizing the inanimate objects. The cat is at the swirling center of Miró’s composition, and the noise and chaos of the dancing lesson are communicated through motion and rhythm.
In addition, a fourth picture, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, will be included in the exhibition. “The Potato” was considered by Miró to be part of his “Dutch Interiors” series, and recalls his impressions in the Netherlands.
Although there is a long history of artists who sought inspiration in the work of other artists, this encounter between the Dutch Masters and one of the most esteemed avant-garde artists of the Twentieth Century is both unexpected and rare. Through a selection of preparatory drawings that will also be displayed, viewers will see how Miró moved from representational sources to his own language.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is at 1000 Fifth Avenue. For information, 212-535-7710 or www.metmuseum.org .
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