Joan Miró, Soirée snob chez la princesse, ca. 1946,
Pastel and gouache on paper, 31,4 x 51,4 cm,
© 2011 Successió Miró / ProLitteris, Zurich
“Anyone who truly wants to achieve something has to let the simple things go… What would be more absurd than seeing one´s life´s mission in replicating the perfect shine on a bottle? If that was all that painting was about, then art would not be worth any effort at all.”
This rejection of realistic representation was Joan Miró´s advice to young painters. Coming from Miró, it was hardly a surprise. But how did this advice – to let go the simple things – end up coming from an artist so well-known for his penchant for simple forms and a starkly reduced range of colours?
Miró´s painting “Soirée snob chez la princesse” or “Snob evening at the princess´s” shows that “simple” is by no means always “simple”. With its whimsical and poetic title, this work was produced in 1946, shortly after the Second World War at a time when materials were still in short supply. Miró had to make do with painting a small format picture with gouache and pastel colours instead of the usual oil on canvas.
Miró´s soirée is a very special one. The light green page is populated by six strongly stylized characters, each with huge eyes and drawn with delicate black lines. Between, above and beneath them float a number of symbols. They originate from Miró´s repertoire of precisely defined symbols. According to Miró´s symbolism, the stars and other celestial bodies represent the cosmos; ladders stand for escape; eyes and eggs often represent male and female genitalia.
Miró used luminescent primary colours, plus green and black for the surfaces of the round heads, the strangely curved legs and the simple triangles that are suggestive of clothing. The precision with which some of the blocks of colour and lines intersect is evidence of a deliberate and well-composed arrangement in this work.