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Joan Miró Sculpture

By Anna Nicholas

Joan Miró and the mystery of the dead cat

A very odd thing happened when I visited the house and studio of surrealist artist Joan Miró recently in Palma. It was all the more peculiar because as a decade old resident of Majorca, I've of course been there before and never ever noticed it. The dead cat, that is.

Let me digress a moment. This month Joan Miró's rather mischievous large bronze and no doubt chilly sculptures will be adorning the splendid 500 acre Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. It's a far cry from sunny Spain so I do hope they'll shroud the poor naked newcomers in blankets at night and maybe even supply them with hot water bottles should the weather take a turn for the worse.

I'm confident that the thousands of visitors who make the pilgrimage to the park will appreciate the grand master's quirky style and his penchant for giving life to horned, big eyed creatures often sporting significant phalluses. All of these works were created during the latter part of his life, a time when many artists can, let's be frank, go a bit dotty or become worryingly experimental. This fortunately is not the case with Miró because as a 20th century surrealist of renown, he never followed a conventional path and his works always raise more questions than answers.

Sculpture parks it seems are becoming the vogue. In Deià village in the north west of Majorca, the famed La Residencia Hotel has just unveiled a wonderful array of sculptures by up and coming and well known international sculptors, all carefully chosen and placed around the grounds by Juan Waelder, the hotel's sculptor in residence. Each piece is available for sale and new work will be frequently introduced to keep the exhibition fresh and vibrant.

But more importantly, let's get back to the cat business. Now I know for a fact that Miró, like the Monty Python gang, had a morbid interest in dead parrots-he has after all an intriguing work showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York which fuses a stuffed parrot on a wooden perch with a hanging cork ball, a silk stocking and a map. Try and work that one out, Mr Freud.

The other day at his Majorcan house run by the Miró Foundation I peered into the rustic, somewhat medieval kitchen and thought that I saw a dried out cat sagging from a peg on the back of the door along with aprons and tea towels. Surely not? The flaccid, desiccated stone-hued skin fell in thick folds and the ears were enormous, so much so that I almost mistook it for a bat. I quizzed the young attendant reading a book in the hallway. He tutted and shook his head as if I was a bit slow. It was of course a cat not a bat. He shrugged heavily and continued to read. I rather hoped that he might have enlightened me as to why the artist-or anyone for that matter-might wish to hang a dead cat from their kitchen door but he didn't invite much conversation.

So I'm none the wiser. If by good fortune anyone does hold the key to the mystery, please do put me out of my misery.

Spatial Thoughts on Sculpture by Bill West
Joan Miró so often thought of as a painter - OK I uderstand perception. It's just when you experience his sculpture, well you could simply ask yourself the question - do we HAVE IT BACKWARDS! No, I promise I'm not trying to change the perception of Joan Miró, but he is one wonderful sculptor!

Joan Miró Sculpture
Joan Miró Sculpture now at Yorkshire Sculpture Park