SUITE MONTROIG/SUITE DESTINO: PHOTOGRAPHS AND COLLAGE
It could be said that during his life Joan Miró had two official photographers: Joaquim Gomis and Francesc Català-Roca. Both documented his personal surroundings and his studio work routine in great detail, and the result has been the object of many books and exhibitions. Due to his close friendship Gomis maintained a more intimate relationship with Miró, however, and he was in the end the trigger for the latters astonishing experiments with the camera. The Mironian oeuvre abounds in collages that incorporate bits of photographic images or photographic interventions created on photographs usually taken by Gomis. On the other hand Miros authentic photographic vision, the creations and re-creations made by Miró himself (always with a little help from Gomis) have not merited a monographic presentation until now.
Gomis was a faithful chronicler of his meetings with Miró and relates how during the summer of 1960, strolling in the environs of the house at Montroig, Miró asked to borrow his camera, a classic Rolleiflex with built-in light-meter, and to make a portrait of him. Miró had a lot of fun looking at the image inverted on the ground-glass viewfinder and began laughingly shouting: I see the world upside-down! I see the world upside-down! He also demonstrated his interest in the focusing mechanism that allowed him to go from sharpness to fuzziness. He soon learned to emphasize an object by isolating it from its context through framing, or via selective focus, focusing or disenfocusing on the remaining planes of the image.
The discovery of photography would give way to what Gomis half-jokingly called a vice: Mirós obsession with photographing any object that caught his attention. At the beginning this was limited to things found by chance on his strolls, such as twisted vines, tree bark with sinuous forms, different shells on the sandy beach, tools belonging to the neighboring peasants Sometimes he also constructed compositions of objects, small assemblages that might later become designs for sculpture. The reiteration of different objects, like gourds, hats or light shoes for working in the fields, expresses his great interest in both the organic world and popular culture. There is also evidence that he experimented with nude studies, taking a young German tourist who was summering in Salou, Andrea Geyer, as a model; unfortunately, these images have been lost.
Miró shot the photos himself, but Gomis developed the film and did the enlargements. Finally, tired of passing the camera back and forth between them, Gomis ended up making a present of it. For a number of years Miró would make use of that old Rolleiflex, redolent with the affection of his friend, as if it were a sketchbook for making rapid-fire drawings in, drawings that might later become the embryo of pictorial or sculptural works. Seldom could Miró restrain himself from writing, scrawling, drawing or painting (with gouache, pastel and other media) on blowups from his negatives. In what we call the Suite Destino (due to its being realized on pages or with illustrations from that popular weekly) it is collage that prevails, using images that are non-original but printed, yet the plastic treatment is very similar.
The participation of photography in his creative thinking is, therefore, more than an intermediate working material or the sketch for a later artwork. It is at this level, then, that we may locate Mirós short but intense photographic experience. An experience we now reclaim for the teaching of his oeuvre as a whole, since it provides us with highly important data on the internal structure of his artistic modus operandi, from inspiration to final execution, and it reexamines a set of objects that in the plastic and symbolic fields reveal the richness of the roots of the Mironian world.