Caress of a Bird (La Caresse d'un oiseau), 1967 Painted bronze, 123 x 43 1/2 x 19 in. (312.4 x 110.5 x 48.3 cm.)
Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Dallas, Texas
After producing a group of masterfully modeled sculptures in the forties, Joan Miró returned again to assemblage, employing this method almost exclusively after 1950 although sometimes combining it with modeling. All manner of found objects were pressed into service. The works generally were cast in bronze in small editions and, for a period in the late sixties, painted in bright primary colors. Caress of a Bird and also Seated Woman and Child (cat. no. 56) derive from this series.
Although Miró's titles are often poetic and improvisational rather then explanatory, this one may have been inspired by the friendly little bird perched lightly on the personage's head. In Miró's whimsical language of assembled objects cast in bronze, a straw basket or hat forms the head. A tortoise shell, another recurrent object in Miró's late work, provides a concave abdomen, the feminine meaning of which is evidenced by the usage of the same form in the 1969 Woman (Jouffroy and Teixidor, 1974, no. 139). Two small balls attached at the back indicate the buttocks. The body is formed by a plinth in the shape of an ironing board, and the chest and shoulders by a piece of carpentry with a hole cut in the middle. Tall, frontal, and symmetrical, the figure may have been inspired by totem carvings, but any serious suggestion of mysticism or religion is erased by Miró's playful wit. This work was cast by the Susse foundry in Paris in an edition of four.