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In the tracks, one sees the plants and rocks that help make the tracks part of the environment, rather than having it stand out from the environment. Miro even makes the blades of grass stand out in the painting, helping demonstrate that they are equally important with the other features. One of the elements of the painting that is most interesting is that it displays the sun without depicting the sun. The entire painting is highly illuminated, which clearly references the sun, but there is no image of the sun in the painting. This detail highlights how detailism is romantic realism; in the mid-day, no sun is actually visible, so that artist depictions of the sun at that point during the day are necessarily a departure from reality.
Miro, the Waggon Tracks. 1918.
The next painting examined is Mont-roig, Village and Church, which was painted in 1919. One of the noteworthy features of the picture is that it is done in ascending planes; there are multiple levels of representation in the painting. This is different than a painting done using a traditional perspective approach; rather than the church fading into the background, it is depicted as being behind the foreground, but its depth is implied by the use of planes. The images in the front of the painting have a greater degree of detail, which lends them a higher element of realism, which also contributes to the perspective in the painting, without using traditional means of perspective. However, the painting departs from realism in a number of significant ways. First, the images displayed in the foreground are not realistic and do not display the same attention to detail that can be seen in many of Miro's work. Instead, they seem to incorporate elements of Cubism, which Miro considered an inspiration. For example, the crops and the wall in the foreground are represented by abstract geometrical elements rather than realistic depictions of crops or walls. However, at the next plane, Miro transitions back to his prior detailist style, so that the middle of the painting is reminiscent of his earlier works. The final plane is much more realistic than the other two, and this lack of any type of stylization distinguishes it from the other two planes.
Miro, Mont-roig, Village and Church. 1919.
While Miro's style in the painting is interesting, the content of the painting may be even more informative of his work as an artist. Viewed as a whole, it is clear that the painting is a very idyllic version of Mont-roig. It is no secret that Miro considered Mont-roig to be an inspiration, so that his representing it as an ideal is to be expected. However, the idyllic representation is also a commentary on detailism. Part of the art form was a reverence for nature and for natural beauty. Therefore, this idyllic quality recurs in his detailist landscape artworks. That they all focus on the same area may be one of the reasons that the reverence for nature has come to be understood as an element of detailism.
The Farm is considered Miro's crowning achievement in his detailist period. Everything in the painting receives the highest degree of detail. Moreover, the painting is very symbolic. Though it is full of everyday objects, each of those objects has a symbolic meaning, which means that that painting that Miro had in mind might be very different from the painting observed by each different observer. In many ways, the farmhouse serves as the anchor of the painting; though it is not in the foreground and does not dominate the landscape, it is a reminder that the scene is one of domestic life as well as an agricultural scene. For Miro, the farmhouse at his family's farm in Mont-roig was a living space and a place of rest and recuperation, not simply a place for farm laborers. This injects the element of hominess into the painting. The farm scene would have been one that was familiar to him, since he would have observed it through hours of convalescence. As in Mont-roig, Village and Church, Miro uses geometric shapes throughout the painting, but it is difficult to characterize that usage as abstract, given how realistic his depictions of the farmyard scene are.
Critics find this to be one of Miro's most interesting paintings for a number of different reasons. First, they find it to be very Catalan in character, as it conveys the ideas of enyoranca (homesickness), continuitat (continuity), mesure (order and proportion), ironia (irony), and seny (common sense). Next, Miro makes a type of political commentary in the painting, which was more overt than in other works: he includes a newspaper in the foreground of the painting. One would not normally encounter a newspaper in a farmyard. Moreover, the newspaper is a Spanish paper, not a Catalan paper, which can reference the separatist leanings of Catalan and Spanish infringement on its separateness.
Miro, the Farm (El Mas). 1921-1922.
While the Farm may have been Miro's penultimate representation of his unique detailist style, Vegetable Garden with the Donkey, which he painted in 1918, is probably the best example of the equality inherent in Miro's detailist approach. The painting depicts a house near the Miro family farm in Mont-roig. Every item in the painting is done with elaborate, immaculate detail. That does not mean that they are necessarily realistic; for example, the very parallel furrows are so defined that they would not represent reality. However, taken as a whole, the scene is almost pastoral. The scene conveys a message of people living in harmony with nature. Moreover, it emphasizes the important role that nature plays in the lives of man, as size is not depicted in a representative manner in the painting.
Miro, the Vegetable Garden with Donkey. 1918.
Miro's detailist period lasted for only a few short years. It began in 1918 and was already beginning to transition by the early 1920s. In fact, "In 1920, Joan Miro paid his first visit to Paris. At the time of that visit, he was painting in his 'detailist' mode- painting pictures that…emphasize small details. Within four years, his 'detailism' gave way to what may be called his mature style" (Palermo). This mature style was considered playful and was in many ways abstract. However, even more than a master of any particular style, Miro should be considered "the artist of his times. In his 90 years, he lived through two world wars, the Spanish Civil War, and the rise and fall of Francisco Franco, the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975. Through it all, he remained deeply tied to his homeland of Catalonia in northeastern Spain, a region with a distinct culture and proud spirit" (National Gallery of Art). That pride and that spirit are evident in all of his works, but may be most easily accessible in the early detailist works described above.
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