New York

Joan Miró

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

THIS EXHILARATING EXHIBITION forced anew the question of Joan Miró’s position in the early-twentieth-century canon—his shifting third or fourth place after Picasso and Matisse owing to the sabot tossed into that spinning jenny by Marcel Duchamp. Despite Miró’s inspired Catalan Pantagruelism, the formalist predispositions of this show’s curator, Anne Umland, reveal that the seemingly capricious artistic strategies that Miró adopted (and equally suddenly departed from) between 1927 and 1937 were as dispassionately Cartesian as any of Duchamp’s arcane gestures. Miró’s rationalist, virtually annual substitutions of one mode for another led to a genial reductio ad absurdum that makes for one of modernism’s most consequential bodies of work. This goes far beyond his infamous, perhaps apocryphal assertion (first reported by Maurice Raynal in 1927): “Je veux assassiner la peinture!”—a rather

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