'It is a work that constantly changes, always appealing, to respond to my mood and thoughts.'

 Bleu I, II, III by Joan Miró (1893–1983), each 8½ft by 11½ft, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

Peter Murray says:
‘This is one of Miró’s great masterpieces. The magnetic field of the three large canvases pulls me in to explore the blobs of black and the birthmarks of red against a sublime blueness. It is a work that constantly changes, always appealing, to respond to my mood and thoughts. I share Miró’s passion for the sea and sky, which, in Triptych Bleu I, II, III, he seems to have condensed to a human, but at the same time cosmic, scale. The use of translucent vibrant blue, according to his grandson Joan Punyet Miró, enabled him to feel protected on his island of Mallorca. Here, I see an artist at the top of his game, as I sense the physical and mental mastery required to create what he described as the culmination of everything he had done to that point.

Peter Murray is Executive Director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year

John McEwen comments on Bleu I, II, III:
Miró was born in Barcelona, his father a goldsmith and watchmaker. His father disregarded his son’s artistic bent, insisting on business school. Miró stubbornly combined business studies with classes at the School of Fine Arts. His father next forced him to train at a drug company. Miró had already shown in a public exhibition and conflict of interest proved too much: he developed typhoid fever and, after convalescing at the recently purchased family farm, he was finally allowed his artistic way.

In 1912, he registered at Francesc Galí’s private, progressive art school, where his gift as a colourist was first recognised; his understanding of form advanced by being taught to draw objects from touch, not sight. In 1920, he visited Paris, where he met Picasso and, from then on, he divided his time between Parisian winters and summers at the family farm. Contact with the international avant-garde soon resulted in his pursuing his own abstracted take on appearances in paintings as intricate and jewel-like as might be expected from his heredity. In 1925, his artistic maturity was confirmed when he exhibited with Picasso, as well as other established older artists, in the first ‘Surrealist’ exhibition.

Of these uncharacteristically large paintings—a response in old age to the ‘punch in the chest’ delivered by the unconventionally large paintings of the post-Second World War American Abstract Expressionists— he said: ‘it cost me an enormous effort, a very great inner tension, to attain the spareness I wanted… one weakness, one mistake, and everything would have been ruined… These canvases are the culmination of everything I had tried to do.’