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All photos: Shauna Alexander, all words: Svetlana

Joan Miró’s work has been celebrated and discussed everywhere: from art history classes to casual dinner parties, and he is one of those rare greats that the general public (and not just the rarefied fine art experts) feel at once both fascinating and accessible. So, we are certain that Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, which opens this Sunday @ National Gallery of Art will prove to be a wild success, especially since it not only shows off the master painter’s vibrant visual language, giving it plenty of room to breathe (as it deserves) but also explores it from an angle that is bound to have Washington DC get engaged: Miró’s politics and reactions to one of the most oscillating periods in European (and Catalan) history.


Miró has been quoted as saying that “Fascism was against everything that represents the pure value of spirit” and the show, which comes to the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art by way of Tate Modern in London and Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, includes his passionate interpretation of the political climate in his beloved homeland through over 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints spanning his career.


At times subtle and contemplative, at times passionate and committed, the works on display his stated obligation that “this thing not be useless but something that offers a service to a man” and that “when the artist speaks in an environment in which freedom is difficult, he must turn each of his works into a negation of the negations, in an untying of all opressions, all prejudices and all the false established values”


Some of the stand-outs include his “The Hope of The Condemned Man” triptych, where we see his trademark color barely surviving the oppressions of the surrounding canvas negative space, or the moody Paysan Catalan Head series, though attempting to pick a handful of “must-sees” within this ambitious show is an ungrateful job if we ever saw one.


In addition to the terrific show and surrounding programming (which includes a Cine-Concert and several accompanying movies) the Gallery also re-partnered up with Jose Andres to bring a little bit of the Catalan flavor to DC’s taste-buds and not just eyes, with a Garden Cafe Catalonia, just across the way in the West Building.


Andres, who spent his formative years in and around Barcelona, created a lunch buffet (priced at $20.25 per person) and a la carte menus that spotlight traditional Catalan flavors, combining sweet fruits and nuts with savory meats and vegetables, and features classic dishes such as escalivada catalana.

Sounds like a perfect book-end to a day at the gallery to us.

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Joan Miro “The Ladder of Escape” runs May 6th – August 12th. For more details about the exhibit and associated programming National Gallery of Art has in store for it-please go here.