Miró l'altre, 1969

Miró, the Other, 1969

The work of Pere Portabella challenges the boundaries that supposedly exist between film and museums. With his interdisciplinary approach to art, this Catalan filmmaker, scriptwriter, and producer has introduced film into spaces that are usually set aside for contemporary art. Portabella’s transgressive spirit has found allies in fellow artists such as Joan Miró, whom he met in the late fifties through the poet Joan Brossa and gallery owner Joan Prats. Miró never failed to respond to the projects that Portabella proposed, and they worked together on several occasions. Their most intense collaboration took place in 1969 and led to the documentary Miró l'altre.

In 1968, against the backdrop of the increasing flexibility of late Francoism, the Ministry of Information and Tourism attempted to exploit Miró's name by organising the first official exhibition of his work. The show was held at Hospital de la Santa Creu in Barcelona, and consisted of a retrospective that had been previously shown at Fondation Maeght de Saint Paul de Vence. Miró did not attend the opening. In 1969, in response to this pro-government exhibition, some young architects from the Association of Architects of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands (now the COAC) decided to organise an alternative show.

COAC commissioned the architecture firm Studio PER, made up of Pep Bonet, Cristian Cirici, Lluís Clotet and Òscar Tusquets, to come up with the 'script' and layout for this new exhibition, which they initially wanted to call ORIM (Miró, backwards), although it ended up being entitled Miró otro. The team of curators asked Joan Miró, who was 76 at the time, to participate. He enthusiastically agreed. It was Miró who suggested painting a long mural along all the windows of the ground floor of the COAC headquarters in Barcelona in the Cathedral Square, under Pablo Picasso’s mural on the façade. Miró chose four people – the four curators of the exhibition –, assigned each of them one of the four basic colours that he always worked with (yellow, green, blue and red), and gave them free rein to paint whatever they wanted. He kept black for himself, to be applied in a final intervention. The action began at 4 am on 27 April 1969, with the presence of Portabella and other photographers. At 6 am the following morning, the painter was putting the final touches of black on a mural that covered seventy square metres.

COAC commissioned Pere Portabella to make a film tribute to Miró, which would be screened as part of the exhibition. But in keeping with his de-constructivist approach to filmmaking, Portabella did not want to merely make a testimonial film. Instead, he suggested to Miró that he carry out a subversive gesture: erasing the mural that he had just painted. Miró proved to be more than willing. At midday on 30 June, the last day of the exhibition, Miró himself began to erase the mural using a spatula, a broom and solvent. He was helped by the building’s cleaning staff and a handful of intellectuals, art critics and architecture students who were there. Pere Portabella recorded the action from start to end, and added music by Carlos Santos. The documentary Miró l'altre, in colour, without a voiceover, was co-produced by the COAC, Films 59 and Pedro Villanueva. It shows the entire process from the creation to the destruction of the mural.

The action connected with the dynamics of the conceptual art of the time, and with the filmmaker's radical ideas. It was a performance-happening that emphasised process and action, rather than the finished work and the eternal values of art. Louis Aragon wrote the text Barcelone a l'aube applauding Miró’s gesture, which sparked a great deal of heated discussion in the art world. Those who were against it included people who lamented the lost opportunity to have a new mural by Miró. The art critic Moreno Galván wrote a newspaper article that said: "The sight of Joan Miró destroying a work of art that he had made with his own hands is a spectacle that I would never want to see again." Even so, he adds: 'I have to acknowledge that there is something captivating in that gesture by Miró and the group of young architects from Barcelona. There is something very beautiful about destroying half a million dollars in broad daylight.' One of the positive reactions came from art critic Alexandre Cirici, who wrote: 'A work that defies good manners, financial speculation, the mythical idea of the artist-priest, and that is an image of violence on the streets. It is a radical departure from the system of established values.'

Technical details

Original title:
Miró l'altre
Registration number:
Portabella, Pere
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
16 mm film, b/w and colour, sound, 15 min - Created by Pere Portabella - Produced by Films 59
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Gift of Pere Portabella
© Pere Portabella
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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