Joan Miró was in his 70s and 80s when he made most of the works in the first large-scale exhibition of this Catalan surrealist’s sculptures to be held in Britain. That may not sound like a recommendation. There is a form of senescence peculiar to modern artists that turns their minds to bronze. Late in their careers, even the most subversive punk troublemakers seem to want to preserve their images for ever in cast metal. The great Max Ernst, for example, made some utterly tedious bronzes in his last years.
Miró, like Ernst, was a member of the surrealist movement in Paris before the second world war. The surrealists believed that “beauty will be convulsive, or it will not exist”. One way to create convulsive, that is irrational, beauty was to make strange, inexplicable objects from stuff found in flea markets – the artist did not choose the ingredients; they chose the artist. Miró made some of the most entrancing of all such surrealist objects. In 1936, he stuck together a stuffed green parrot, a doll’s shoe, a hat and a map to evoke some elusive dream. His three-dimensional dream art is just as vivid and rollicking as his paintings, with their biomorphic deep-sea visions.