press release

The Guggenheim's fifth exhibition in the Piedmontese town of Vercelli brings together masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collections in Venice and New York and from many other collections, focusing on the work of three geniuses among the founding fathers of the historic avant-garde of the last century: Joan Miró, founding member of Surrealism, Alexander Calder, champion of Abstraction, and Piet Mondrian, founding member of the De Stijl movement.

In 1928 Joan Miró returned to Paris from a trip to the Netherlands with several postcard reproductions of works by seventeenth-century Dutch artists. The present work is a transformation of Jan Steen’s The Dancing Lesson (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). The gradual translation of veristic detail into eccentric, evocative form can be followed through preliminary sketches of specific motifs to a meticulously complete preparatory drawing. A conspicuous modification of the Dutch original is Miró’s enlargement of and focus on human and animal figures and his concomitant suppression or de-emphasis of inanimate objects. The real subject of the Steen is not the cat, but the sound, movement, and hilarity the dancing lesson provokes. Miró seizes on this anomaly in his version: although the cat serves as the hub of his centrifugal composition, he emphasizes the cacophony and animation of the lesson through the swirling motion of myriad details and the dancing rhythm of points and counterpoints.

only in german

Miró, Mondrian, Calder
(Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Alexander Calder)
Kurator: Luca Massimo Barbero