Joan Miro The Ladder of Escape

Marko Daniel, Matthew Gale


Joan Miró‘s paintings are among the most widely recognized of any modern artist,reproduced everywhere from books to T-shirts to posters. While he is most often seen as a surrealist or a postwar abstract painter, terms he rejected, this book brings new insights into Miró‘s work by framing it in the context of the turbulent times in which he lived.

Miró‘s contemporary Picasso left Spain, promising never to return under a Fascist government. In contrast, Miró chose internal exile, removing himself to the island of Mallorca, a decision that has led to him being viewed as a less political artist. This book challenges that impression by focusing on Miró‘s politically engaged works, from the rural, anarchist tradition and strong Catalan nationalism reflected in early paintings like The Farm and Head of a Catalan Peasant to the triptych The Hope of a Condemned Man (1974) through which he publicly declared his opposition to Franco.

Drawing on new scholarship from an international group of experts, the book accompanies the first exhibition in nearly half a century to show work from throughout Miró‘s career. It sheds new light on the life and achievements of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century.


A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art…makes a spirited attempt to find and explore the politics.

— Los Angeles Times

Through the critical writing…[Miró] emerges as a consistently moral force…what speaks loudest is the portrait of Miró as an artist as committed to liberty and social transformation as to art itself.

— Publishers Weekly

The National Gallery's Miro exhibit is an artist's astonishing chronological journey through the major movements of modern art.

— The Washington Times

Sometimes an art exhibit comes along that is so stunning it becomes a travel destination. Such is Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape at the National Gallery of Art.

— Chicago Examiner

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape is a beautiful book, and its essays are both informative and thought-provoking….

— International Sculpture Center Book Reviews

To say that the show is grand in scale—with pieces dating from 1918 to 1974—is an understatement…

— The Washingtonian

The exhibition's layout, together with the accompanying scholarly catalog, enables one to begin to understand Miró's progression from an art of detailed realism…through a later phase of expressionistic and Fauve-like paintings, and then into a burst of surrealistic excess…

— The InTowner

An illustrated retrospective survey focuses on Miró's politically engaged art.

— Publishers Weekly


Marko Daniel

Edited By

Marko Daniel is Curator of Public Programmes, Tate Modern.

Matthew Gale

Edited By

Matthew Gale is Head of Displays and Curator at Tate Modern.