Mischief Maker

A new exhibit showcases the neglected, playful sculptures of artist Joan Miró

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Miró did succeed in 1981 in winning a commission for a less controversial large sculpture. His Personnage et oiseaux (Figure and Birds), a 50-foot abstract naked woman made of steel and bronze, was placed in front of architectI. M. Pei’s ChaseTower in downtown Houston. Miró was too ill to attend the unveiling in 1982. But it was a high society event in Houston with a guest list that included former president Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, as well as Pei, who told the press: “It was Miró’s mischievous aspect that appealed to me. His work is a celebration of life.”


On the whole, Americans embraced Miró, and he returned their affection. “America has influenced me greatly because of the vitality you have,” he told me. “It has push,” he added, punching his fist in the air. “From the moment his work reached American shores until the day he died nearly six decades later,” Coyle notes in the catalog, “Miró consistently enjoyed more success—sales, exhibitions, favorable reviews, admiration, and emulation—in the United States, and especially in New York City, than anywhere else in the world.” Now, a little-known aspect of his work—his whimsically painted sculptures—make us smile and applaud his impish sense of humor once again.


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