—This is a guest post by Stephanie Stillo, a curator in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
Throughout his career, pioneering surrealist Joan Miró pushed the boundaries of art.
In a piece recently acquired by the Library, Miró took that experimentation to new, extreme lengths — 32 feet, to be exact.
The artwork, “Makemono,” is a colorfully illustrated silk scroll that the Spanish artist created in collaboration with French lithographer Aimé Maeght in Paris in 1956.
In the years following World War II, Miró became increasingly experimental, initiating projects that employed lithography, pochoir, woodcuts, calotypes and various forms of texturizing and defacement in printmaking.
It was in this period of great creativity that Miró partnered with Maeght to create “Makemono” — a showcase of vibrant colors and technical prowess.
As its name suggests, Miró modeled the scroll after picture and calligraphic scrolls of ancient East Asian origin. Similar to traditional Asian scrolls, which present a narrative journey for the viewer, Miró filled “Makemono” with his own biomorphic characters, such as birds, eyes and the moon — an evolving visual language of figures that became the artist’s trademark throughout 20th century.
To complete the experience, the scroll is housed in a hand-carved, painted and varnished wood box, also composed by Miró.
The acquisition of “Makemono” complements the notable holdings of Miró material in the Aramont Library, a collection donated to the Library several years ago. In private hands for over 40 years, the Aramont Library consists of 1,700 volumes of literary first editions, illustrated books and an astonishing collection of “livres d’artiste” — books produced by some of the most important modern artists of the 20th century.
“Makemono” achieves a distinct blend of East and West, with an added taste of Miró’s native Catalonia — a true landmark in his own notorious experimentation with different forms of visual storytelling.