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Seattle Art Museum showcases work by Joan Miro

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Seattle Art Museum exhibition of work by Joan Miro

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Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has scored the only West Coast exhibition of 50 works by 20th-century Spanish artist Joan Miro, considered one of the foremost innovators of modern art. What makes this particular exhibit so astounding is that all this powerful work is drawn from the period between 1963 and 1981 when Miro was in his 70s and 80s. Miro: The Experience of Seeing marks the first extensive show of the artist's late work in the United States.

Miro is often thought of primarily as a painter but about half this show consists of sculptures he created by collaging together a wide and whimsical variety of "found" objects or bits of objects: chunks of wood, the tines of a rake, broken pottery, a gourd, etc. The forged together pieces of each sculpture are covered with patinated bronze which helps meld them into a whole while still allowing us to identify the individual parts. The result is a series of witty and playful "figures."

That same spirit of wit and play occurs in the paintings as well, with their vibrant primary colors and bold strokes of black outline. Woman, Bird, and Star (Homage to Picasso) gives us a harlequin patchwork of colors within various geometrical shapes graced by tiny black antennae. In Head, Bird, a black blob of a head with three red eyes and a Nike Swoosh white mouth burst onto the canvas, setting off a spray of dots of ink. Always, these paintings have a strong sense of motion.

The collection comes from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, and also features a video of interviews with Miro. It continues at SAM through May 26, 2014. For information on hours, tickets, and directions, http://seattleartmuseum.org/

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