With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
Joan Miró developed his poetic and fantastic world from 1923 on, in contact with Surrealist writers and artists. His strictly Surrealist period lasted no longer than two years, between 1925 and 1927, but during that span of time, Miró gave free rein to the invention and evocation of a symbolic and marvellous world, creating his Dream Paintings (Peintures de rêve or Peintures oniriques). These canvases marked a decisive stage in his oeuvre at a moment when, in his own words, he “freed himself from all pictorial conventions”. On wide monochrome backgrounds unusual signs and forms appeared, drawn from the unconscious. The drawing Personnage au rectangle blanc, dated 1928, which is as enigmatic in its form as descriptive in its title, is in the direct line of those dreamlike paintings. On an ochre ground, an ambivalent figure, half-human half-animal, drawn with deliberate lines, fills the whole space of the composition. The face in profile presents a disproportionate eye seen head on, and, in the guise of a nose, a muzzle which lends it a grotesque look. The shoulders with their rectilinear outlines are flanked by rectangular surfaces, one white, the others black, whose presence is as strange as that of the figure 5, decoratively written with its solids and upstrokes. The seeming spontaneity of the work is contradicted by the existence of a preparatory drawing, with pencil on white paper (held in the Miró Foundation in Barcelona), which already records all the elements of this composition, whose form is not very removed from certain automatic drawings produced by the Surrealists. Made during a period of intense research, this drawing reveals the tension at work in the art of Miró, who was keen to “kill painting” without robbing it of its visual and plastic qualities.
Personnage au rectangle blanc, 1928
© Musée de Grenoble