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Miro at Play With Women, Birds and Stars in Istanbul Show

  • Reuters

An employee at Christie's poses with Joan Miro's "L'Oiseau au plumage deploye vole vers l'arbre argente" (R) and "Painting (Women, Moon, Birds)" in London, Jan. 8, 2015.

An employee at Christie's poses with Joan Miro's "L'Oiseau au plumage deploye vole vers l'arbre argente" (R) and "Painting (Women, Moon, Birds)" in London, Jan. 8, 2015.

It's not every artist who could see a woman's hat in a red farmyard faucet, but works on view in Istanbul show the 20th century Catalan painter and sculptor Joan Miro in a playful mood in later life.

"Women, Birds, Stars" at the Sakip Sabanci Museum features 125 paintings, prints, sculptures, tapestries and ceramics, including loans from the Miro family's personal collection.

Many were created on the island of Mallorca, where Miro moved in 1956 at the age of 63.

Inspired by the Mediterranean landscape and climate, he reduced his palette to elemental colors, and his effusive, freehand paintings evoke a fantasy world of strange creatures, expressed mainly in yellow, red, blue and black.

"The show concentrates on the late period of his career that we can define with one word: freedom," said Rosa Maria Mallet, Miro expert and director of Barcelona's Joan Miro Foundation. "He has freedom with language, material, different techniques, and he is the master of them all ... Probably the most interesting part of Miro's work is that it opens a way for other artists."

Miro's influence on artists from Alexander Calder to Jackson Pollock was profound. More than 30 years after his death, demand for his work has not dimmed. Last month, the canvas "L'Oiseau au plumage deploye vole vers l'arbre argente" fetched a reported $13.9 million at a Christie's auction.

Blue Moon, Red Sun

Oil paintings of a blue moon, which Miro gave his grandson Joan Punyet Miro in 1978 when he was 10 years old, and a fiery red sun, a gift to Punyet's brother, are on view at the Sabanci.

"We lent them because they are so meaningful to us," Punyet, an art historian who runs his grandfather's estate, told Reuters. "I cannot keep his work in a cage. It belongs to the people, and I have an obligation to set them free."

Punyet pointed to common objects from his grandfather's farm that made their way into sculptures. In "Girl Escaping" from 1967, the tap from a pump where Punyet remembers drawing water from a well is repurposed into bright-red headgear.

"Transforming the meaning of everyday materials, finding magic in the elements of life shows his poetic soul," he said.

The show has a replica of Miro's studio, which Punyet visited as a boy.

"When I went to see him in the studio, he spoke about his process of creation. It was a place of enchantment," he said.

A previous Miro show in Turkey was cancelled shortly after opening in 2013 when the Miro Foundation learned it contained fakes. Some 150,000 people have viewed the exhibition as it heads into its final week.

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