Monday, June 04, 2012

Joan Miró's Ladder of Escape & Manuel Azaña

By Gary Berg-Cross
Washington, DC attorney Luis Granados spoke elegantly Saturday June 2nd at Wheaton Library about his soon to be released AHA ebook, "Damned Good Company– A ‘Profiles in Courage’ for Humanists”. We’ll have notes on the talk and a review of the book on Secular Perspectives thanks to Edd Doerr, who is an expert in the Spanish Civil War and could joyously say, " Luis got everything right in his talk."
The talk featured humanist Manuel Azaña, Republican Action Party, who led a coalition that swept to power in Spain in 1932. Azaña became Prime Minister, and the principal drafter of a new constitution for the new Republic in the turbulent 30s including the struggle with Fascism.
A forfortuitous opportunity that DC offers is to see another side to the very human experience of war and fascism in Spain is the National Gallery’s (East) 120 piece show on Joan Miró called The Ladder of Escape.
Like many I was familiar with Miró’s abstract shapes, sometimes sparse squiggly lines with color that hits you in the face.

I didn’t know the arc of his work from early rural drawings to the painful 30s and 40s loaded up with protest art. I didn’t know of the recurrent theme of ladders ascending like escape from brutal reality in his work –
“how to be engaged with world events and still preserve his own imaginative freedom”.
I heartily recommend seeing this show, organized by London’s Tate Modern museum, in town till August 12, 2012 . Just seeing his early work,“the farm” bought by his friend Hemingway and how it captures Spain is worth the going.

Hemingway wrote that:

 “It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there. No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things.”

Add to this such things as “Still Life with Old Shoe” and the Constellation series and it is like seeing 3-4 separate giants of art. To see them in a chronological perspective of Miró times and what he was feeling in his art makes it  a rich narrative filled at times with dark intensity. This is a wildly exciting exhibit and one that can be visited many times with different rewards. It would be wonderful to have Luis and Edd as docents for the exhibit, but I guess this is too much to ask for.

By all means see the 17 minute or so documentary short by Carroll Moore.

And the Garden Cafe in the National Gallery is serving serving José Andrés' Catalonian fare combining “sweet fruit and nuts with savory meats and vegetables” through August.

DC offers such wonderful cultural treats!

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