Saturday, March 14, 2015

Joan Miró at Auction

Christie’s The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale on Tuesday 2 February 2016

Painted in March 1968, Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit (Woman and Birds in the Night) by Joan Miró (1893-1983) is a major large-scale painting of one of the artist’s favourite subjects, made for an important travelling retrospective exhibition of his work held at the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu in Barcelona and the Haus der Kunst in Munich between 1968 and 1969 (estimate: £3-5 million). Of all these venues, it was Miró’s exhibition in Barcelona, his first in Spain for over fifty years, which was to prove the most lastingly important as it led directly to the establishment of the Miró Foundation there seven years later. Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit is one of several paintings on the poetic theme of women, birds and the night that Miró made in the mid-1960s, at a time when he was pursuing the joint influences of recent American painting and of Japanese calligraphy on his own uniquely poetic, instinctive and gestural style of painting.

Sotheby’s London Surrealist Art Evening Sale on 5 February 2013 

Highlighting the sale is Le fermier et son épouse (, est. £5.5-7.5 million), an intense and brilliantly coloured painting by Joan Miró.The work was executed in 1936, a time when the artist was reaching wide-spread international recognition, with his works participating in now legendary Surrealist exhibitions including the International Surrealist Exhibitionin London and Fantastic Art, Dada & Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The painting depicts a Catalan farmer and his wife, surrounded by the landscape of Montroig and farm animals. Summarising the significance of this farm when working on a painting depicting it in 1928, Miró remarked that the work was: “a résumé of my entire life in the country. I wanted to put everything I loved about the country into that canvas - from a huge tree to a tiny little snail. I don't think it makes sense to give more importance to a mountain than an ant (but landscape artists just can't see that).”

The powerful composition Le fermier et son épouse from one of the most turbulent periods of Miró's career was painted in the lead-up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War inthe summer of that year. For many decades the painting was in the collection of the great American film director Billy Wilder (of Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard fame). The work was not seen in public until 1989, when Billy Wilder’s collection was sold at auction in New York. 

Also in the sale:

Joan Miró
LOT SOLD. 8,441,250 GBP

Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in June 2012 sale saw a record price achieved for any record price achieved for any record price achieved for any record price achieved for any Surrealist work of art, and any work by Joan Miro with the sale of  

Peinture (Étoile bleue) for £23.6 million (pre-sale estimate £15-20 million) 

Sotheby’s Evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art, 8th February 2011

Joan Miró is represented in the sale with a striking example of the artist’s late works, Femme, 1978 (est: £900,000-£1.2 million), which features the characteristic iconography that occupied the artist throughout his career. For Miró, women, birds, stars, the moon, the sun, night and dusk formed a poetic language, and the present work shows his style verging between figuration and abstraction. While taking a recognisable image as his starting point, the artist builds his composition using a pictorial lexicon of signs and symbols. 

Sotheby's 2014


Joan Miró
LOT SOLD. 2,285,000 USD

Joan Miró
Estimate 4,000,0006,000,000 USD
Joan Miró
LOT SOLD. 581,000 USD 

Christie's 2015

Christie's 2014

Christie's 2013


Christie's 2011

Christie's 2010


Christie's 2008