PRINT January 1994

Free Hand

I dreamed that my hand detached itself from my body. It began to travel, feeling and affecting everything. This was a good dream.

More Pleasure
I lied about the dream: I had it while I was awake. I wanted to explain an ideal of pleasure, the pleasure of unlimited extension.

His hand clasps a fine brush and travels. It climbs into the night sky and connects the stars into new signs of the zodiac. It plunges into the ocean to pull out an expanse of blue. It enters museums to reinvent Dutch interiors, still lifes, and portraits. It roams the earth to punctuate and order the landscape. It meets human beings and reorders their fleshy, desiring exteriors into flat and legible texts. It finds pleasure and humor in all it renders; all it wants is more surfaces to dance over. Childlike, it desires body, dog, cat, rooster, tree, sky, ocean, and food with the same intensity, transforming all external reality into one textual body.

Pure Pleasure
Picasso wanted to touch every female body. In his strivings we sense his fear of losing his own desire; his sensual gluttony feels like torment. Miró was as locked into the physical as Picasso was, but he avoided torment by avoiding the sensual. He accomplished this by transcribing the physical into the linguistic. The erotic puns in Miró are not expressions of his desire for a subject, but transformations of a subject into a whimsical sign system that desensualizes all it replaces.

Miró creates a complex narrative to describe or rather circumscribe a body. This body is broken down into recombinant abstract units punctuated and connected by dashes, lines, and dots. Biomorphism is an uninteresting term here, because it only describes what certain objects look like. We do not merely see the physical in Miró, we read it. Miró’s paintings register an uncanny asexual (almost asensual) bodily pleasure.

For me the Miró retrospective peaks twice. First are the “Constellations” of 1940 and 1941, and second are Blue I, II, and III from 1961. Blue is a rationalist’s color. It is the color of things that are soothing: a clear sky, a still sea. It is a color for those who find pleasure in clarity. A small blue work called Painting (Blue), from 1925, is a washy monochrome save for a tiny black and white circle floating serenely in the upper left-hand corner; this circle reads as “I,” as Miró’s presence in the cool blue expanse.

By 1961, Miró’s vocabulary had been condensed into shorthand. Blue I, II, and III are three gigantic sweeps of the most beautiful aqueous blue. In each painting a red dash glows like a living body in an infrared scanner among pebble-shaped black stepping stones and (in I and III) a thin line resembling a long strand of black hair. The “I” is now the red, glowing dash. It is hot and bothered within a rational cosmos. It sticks out like a sore thumb. Late in life, Miró gave the body back its torment.

Matthew Weinstein is an artist who lives in New York.