Joan Miró - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 16, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Maeght, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner on June 27, 1977

  • Exhibited

    New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Miró: Sculpture in Bronze and Ceramic, 1967-1969, Recent Etchings and Lithographs, May 5 - June 5, 1970, no. 1, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Paris, Galerie Maeght, Miró: Sculptures, July 23 - September 30, 1970, no. 5, p. 30 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 22)
    Milan, Galleria Arte Borgogna, Miró/sculture, December 1970 - January 1971, no. 16, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago, Miró Sculptures, October 3, 1971 - May 28, 1972, no. 70, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    London, Hayward Gallery, Miró Bronzes, February 1 - March 12, 1972, no. 31, p. 48 (another example exhibited and illustrated on the back cover)
    Kunsthaus Zürich, Joan Miró, Das plastische Werk, June 4 - July 30, 1972, pl. 19, no. 72, pp. 52, 96 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 97)
    Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, Sculptures de Miró, céramiques de Miró et Llorens Artigas, April 14 - June 30, 1973, no. 93, p. 137 (another example exhibited)
    Paris, Grand Palais, Joan Miró, May 17 - October 13, 1974, no. 249, p. 155 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 96)
    Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Miró: cent sculptures 1962-1978, October 19 - December 17, 1978, no. 40, p. 95 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 53)
    London, Waddington Galleries, Joan Miró, December 1 - 23, 1981, no. 12, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Madrid, Centro Reina Sofía; Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró; Cologne, Museum Ludwig (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 150), Miró Escultor, October 21, 1986 - June 8, 1987, no. 61, p. 136 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    Alain Jouffroy and Joan Teixidor, eds., Miró Sculptures, Paris, 1980, no. 120, p. 234 (another example illustrated, p. 78)
    Pere Gimferrer, The Roots of Miró, Barcelona, 1993, no. 1215, p. 403 (another example illustrated)
    Franco Basile, Joan Miró: Vedi alla voce sogno, Bologna, 1997, p. 227 (another example illustrated)
    Emilio Fernández Miró and Pilar Ortega Chapel, Joan Miró: Sculptures. Catalogue raisonné, 1928-1982, Paris, 2006, no. 135, p. 144 (another example illustrated, p. 145)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1969, Conque is a striking example of Joan Miró’s acclaimed sculptural practice that came to define much of the last two decades of his career. Beginning in the late 1950s, the artist continued to challenge artistic conventions as he shifted his focus from painting to sculpture. Showcasing this exploration, the present work is both an invitation, and a seductive trap. Smooth and tactile, the shiny exterior of this three and a half-feet high bronze sculpture is punctuated by a scattering of bulbous protrusions emerging like miniature horns and volcanoes from a tar-like monolith, alluding to some tumult of life barely concealed below the surface. Combined with the incised lines, circles and star, the surface of Conque appears not only biomorphic, but also biographical, as the viewer is able to trace the artist’s own movements writ large in the bronze surface. In stark contrast, the interior offers a deliberately rough-hewn surface in an oxidized copper hue. As its name suggests, this sculpture is shell-like, and the interior serves as a comfortable haven, buffeted from the slings and arrows of everyday life by the thick wall of metal that curves around that inner sanctum.

    During the period when Miró created Conque, he would often find inspiration in the materials he found around him, walking in the countryside or on the beach. A turtle’s shell, a piece of wood, a hat, a conch… These could all be taken up by the artist as inspiration to be incorporated into his work. In some cases, the incorporation was quite literal: his assemblages and sculptures often show the traces of the objects themselves, readymades that have been absorbed to become part of the fabric of the work itself. In other cases, this integration is more elusive. This appears to be the case with Conque, which is linked thematically to the conch shell of the same name, yet which has been smoothed and simplified, as well as magnified, in order to become the sculpture we see before us. Miró has used the conch as a springboard for his own creative pursuit. His very personal response to the theme can be seen in the marks he has inscribed in the surface, the lines which run like rivulets through the dark bronze, in particular the cluster that forms a diagrammatic star, recalling his lyrical paintings such as the earlier Constellations.

    In addition to its seductive play with tactility, Conque reveals Miró playing with signs and with space. The eponymous shell has been transformed into something resembling a giant, part-open egg, invoking the very essence of creation. Indeed, with its small protrusions and the large chasm at its center, it becomes a microcosm of the entire nature of reproduction. The womb-like shelter at the core of Conque can be seen as a continuation of the themes of sex and reproduction that featured so prominently in many of his works, even from the highpoint of Surrealism. Looking at Conque through this prism, it can even be seen as a companion to the Janus sculptures being created at the same time by his former protégée, Louise Bourgeois.

    Miró’s interest in the void hints at a more formal investigation of the nature of existence: presence and absence are not just evoked, but also encapsulated in Conque. In this, the sculpture is shown as highly germane to the evolution of Miró’s pictures during the same period, when he was paring back the elements in order to create works that were minimal, and therefore brought an increasing emphasis to what was there. In this, he was also distilling the potency of the lexicon of signs that he had created over the course of his career. Conque too brings to the fore a distinctly organic character, while also displaying some of Miró’s highly recognizable signs.

    Despite the emphasis on reduction that can be perceived in Conque, especially when compared to some of Miró’s other sculptures of the time, which often incorporated eccentric combinations of elements, there remains an irrepressible exuberance. "The sculptures from the last two decades of Miró's productive life took on a broad place and force", Jacques Dupin has noted. "For Miró, sculpture became an intrinsic adventure, an important means of expression that competed with the canvas and sheet of paper…without ever simply being a mere derivative or deviation from painting…He dreamt of the street, public squares, gardens and cities. Just as he had always sought to transgress painting, he now sought to transgress his own work” (Jacques Dupin, Miró, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 361- 367).

Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection



incised with the artist's signature and number "Miró 4/6" and stamped by the foundry "SUSSE FONDEUR Paris" along the bottom
bronze with brown and green patina
43 3/8 x 31 1/2 x 19 5/8 in. (110.2 x 80 x 49.8 cm.)
Conceived in 1969, this work is number 4 from an edition of 6.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $800,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue