Joan Miró - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Figure in a State of Metamorphosis, 1936, is a wonderfully emotive example of Joan Miró’s revolutionary exploration through spontaneous drawing into the workings of the human psyche. The artist’s symbolistic drawings of the 1930s exposed the unconscious mind, creating dream-like and surrealist imagery. Many artistic and literary figures were fascinated by Miró’s artistic attitude. The French writer and poet André Breton claimed that Miró showed the ‘poetic reality’i of life through his art.

    Miró executed Figure in a State of Metamorphosis in February of 1936, a few months prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While Miró was not overtly political, he nevertheless was known to support the Republican fighters due to his own artistic beliefs of liberalism, emphasising in an interview that ‘freedom has meaning for me and I will defend it at any cost’.ii The context in which Miró created Figure in a State of Metamorphosis makes this work particularly poignant. With the impending political and social unrest, Miro depicted an abstracted, imaginary world beyond the hostile reality of his country. His works inspired by metamorphosis were also some of his final before fleeing to France amidst the terror of the war. With arms outstretched, caught in movement, set against a gouache wash background, the figure suggested is in state of transition, foreshadowing Miró’s own transition from the life he led in Spain.


    Collector's Digest


    •    A selection of Joan Miró’s prints and works on paper were recently exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (10 November 2020-5 September 2021).

    i Joan Miro, quoted in Tim Adams, ‘Joan Miró: A life in paintings’, The Guardian, 20 March 2011, online
    ii Joan Miro, quoted in Alexander Jürgs, ‘The Artist and the War’, Schirn Mag, 15 April 2016, online

    • Provenance

      Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
      Acquavella Galleries, New York
      Private Collection
      Phillips, New York, 14 November 2018, lot 161
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Jacques Dupin and Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné. Drawings, Volume I: 1901-1937, Paris, 2008, no. 592, p. 285 (illustrated)


Figure en état de métamorphose (Figure in a State of Metamorphosis)

signed 'Miró' lower right; signed, titled and dated 'Joan Miró "Figure en état de métamorphose" 3/2/36.' on the reverse
gouache and India ink on paper
41.4 x 32.4 cm (16 1/4 x 12 3/4 in.)
Executed in 1936, this work is accompanied by a photo certificate of authenticity issued by Mr. Jacques Dupin in 2002.

Full Cataloguing

£180,000 - 250,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £163,800

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 14 October 2021