A surrealist’s art is not always easily understood. Most of the time, you either get it or you don’t. That’s because surrealists channel the unconscious, and translate what they have seen in their dreams onto paper or canvas. But in Miro’s Magic Animals by Antony Penrose, surrealist Joan (Spanish for John) Miro “dreamed” while he was awake…and shared those dreamy images with the world.
In the book, Penrose writes about his encounters with the famous Miro when he visited Penrose’s parents’ farm and painted the animals. Miro’s paintings swirl with deep, rich colors, haunting shapes and unapologetic mystery. There are wide, brown deserts and farm animals with amazingly long ears or imposingly huge limbs. There is a painting of a dog sitting in the darkness, eyeing a ladder that goes up to moon, and a farm wife with the huge feet of a giant, holding a rabbit that is about to become rabbit stew. There is also a “Harlequin’s Carnival” that is full of jack-in-the-box figures that float and bob and dance.
Through these and other “magical” pictures, Penrose introduces budding young artists to the mysterious and make-believe world of surreal paintings. He helps children understand paintings by pointing out familiar animals, like donkeys and dogs and even giraffes, and asking them to find the animals in the paintings. He also includes “Miro-inspired” drawings from other children that should inspire students from any elementary art classroom to begin their own masterpieces.
Not only does this book brim with paintings for the surrealist-lover, but it also includes a few pieces by a talented chimpanzee artist called Congo. All in all, it makes for an interesting table book and conversation piece, especially for critics or art-lovers who yearn for information about the great Joan Miro. However, it must be mentioned that this book is definitely not for everyone, especially straight-laced, conventional art-lovers who prefer paintings with clear subject matter that speaks for itself.
Great for budding surrealists, early elementary classrooms, and as an addition to personal libraries.