This deliberately enigmatic painting was inspired by an arrow drawn on an envelope by Miró’s friend, the American artist Alexander Calder. Miró was convinced that ambiguity was essential to the poetic quality of his work, and the central black shape is intentionally obscure; he compared it to both a whale and a cloud.
Message from a Friend
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 262 x 275.5 cm © Successió Miró / ADAGP, Paris and DACS London 2018.
One of the most iconic artists of the twentieth century, Joan Miró’s engaging and richly coloured works are underpinned by a profound concern for humanity and the importance of liberty. Born in Barcelona in 1893, he moved to Paris in 1920 where he became an influential figure in the surrealist movement. However, his identity as a Catalan remained central to his work throughout his life. He responded to the turbulent times he lived through – escaping wartime France and living under the Franco regime in Spain – by developing a deeply personal language of signs and symbols that he used throughout his long career.