Welcome to a world of Aliens–Joan Miró at the YSP

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Last weekend the weather was far to nice to stay at home decorating, so  on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning we got in the car and drove over to Yorkshire Sculpture Park where a new exhibition of work by the Catalan artist Joan Miró had opened the previous weekend. It follows on from the major exhibition at the Tate in London last year which had been a big success. We hadn’t been able to visit the Tate, so were particularly keen to get over to the YSP which is only an hours drive away (M62 willing!).

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There are a very large number of sculptures on display in the Underground gallery, on the lawn outside and on the terrace overlooking the garden. Many of them created later in his career when he was in his seventies and eighties. There were also a number of vibrant, colourful prints in the gallery. Photography isn’t permitted indoors, but there are some images available to view on the YSP website. However, visitors are free to touch and photograph those works on display outdoors.

According to a YSP press release

Miró produced around 400 sculptures and a similar number of ceramic works, the majority concentrated within the later part of his career. The artist viewed sculpture as equally important to his practice as painting although it was generally less known and critically examined.

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The majority of the sculptures are cast in bronze. In some cases he incorporated everyday objects like shoes, baskets and items of furniture which have been transformed into metal.

Arriving outside the gallery, the first impression of the works displayed on the lawn  was that they looked like alien creatures. And this impression was consolidated when we went inside and explored the large number of pieces displayed in the three main rooms particularly the third room were there a re a very large number of smaller works on display . So it’s not surprising that Miró himself referred to his “phantasmagoric world of living monsters” .

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This one reminded us of the chickens in the Aardman animated film “Chicken run”

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This one looks like an old fashioned lamppost that’s transformed into an alien

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This one

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reminded me of some of the works by Henry Moore displayed on the Park, in particular, these three

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I particularly liked this piece. It’s simple but effective.

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There’s a number of elements that crop up in a number of the works. He’s clearly very fond of birds and many of the pieces are “Personnages”.

I enjoyed the exhibition and we intend to return in the near future to have another look. There were some impressive sculptures on display. However, I didn’t like everything or, indeed, everything about some of the ones I liked (if that makes sense!). He’d used a very dark, almost black, patina (surface treatment) applied uniformly, on many of the pieces. This meant that the surface was "flat” making it difficult to perceive detail. I thought a number of them looked like they’d been made from plastic rather than metal. They didn’t need to be made from bronze – in fact I felt that as the same effect could have been achieved with other, cheaper materials. He’d also applied colour to some of the works on show indoors . He used bright, primary and secondary colours, possibly using enamel type paint. One example is La Caresse d’un oiseau

La Caresse d'un oiseau

(picture source: Joan Miró online imagebank)

I like it. I think it works well. But did it really need to be made from bronze?

Despite these reservations, I thought that, once again, the YSP have created an outstanding exhibition. In this case by working with his grandsons and his Foundation. And entry is free (although there’s a fairly hefty fee for car parking).

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7 thoughts on “Welcome to a world of Aliens–Joan Miró at the YSP

    • My thoughts exactly! It is a long way up there from Cornwall but the YSP always seems to put on a good show and there are some new works they’ve introduced. I think you’d find the Jim Finer video installation they’re showing in the old chapel interesting too (I’ll probably post something on it soon). The Miro exhibition is on until January next year – so there is plenty of time to get to see it if you find yourself up north.

  1. They look fantastic! We missed the London exhibition last year too, but consoled ourselves because we had been to the Miro Museum in Barcelona, well worth a visit if you happen to be in the city. The whole Museum is fantastic but two things stand out in my memory: the roof terrace of the building is full of multi-coloured sculptures like the one you feature in your post and they looked breathtaking. The other thing that we loved was in the basement room: a whole series of sculptures connected with pulleys and wire that sink into buckets of water and in the process make amazing music – stunning!

    I will pencil in a visit to YSP in the diary.

  2. So I’ll have to add the Bacelona Miro museum to my list of places to visit – when I get round to going back to Barcelona (only been there once for a short break about 6 or 7 years ago). The YSP is always a good bet. All the exhibitions I’ve seen there have been excellent and we usually end up going back for another look. And the “permanent” exhibits scattered around the park are always worth seeing. If you do go back be aware they’re making a substantial increase in their car park charge – although the new machines will take cards and notes so you won’t have to turn up with a stack of pound coins. I guess they’ve lost funding due to the ConDem cuts and need to make up the gap. I think it’s preferable to charge for car parking as a flat fee rather than charge per person for entry so family groups won’t be discouraged too much.

  3. Pingback: Yinka Shonibare MBE at the YSP | Down by the Dougie

  4. Pingback: Miro in the Rijksmuseum Garden | Down by the Dougie

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