Artists are like wild mushrooms. Where you find one, you’re sure to find another nearby. The shared air and environment create a set of secret correspondences that can culminate in admiration, mutual influence or friendship. That’s what happened to two boys who refused to grow up, Joan Miró and Alexander Calder. One was born on Barcelona’s Passatge del Crèdit, a stone’s throw from the Custo store on Carrer Ferran. The other was born in Pennsylvania, not far from the steps Rocky famously jogged up.
A frivolous comparison? Far from it. Miró and Calder trained at the same boxing gym in Paris. Miró was short, but Calder was built like a tank. And since the art of painting and the art of boxing have little in common, Miró asked Calder to give him lessons. In turn, Calder took him to his Methodist church’s weekly dance, but they had no luck.
Miró and Calder, two solitary mushrooms, united by their urge to create. Two artists who exchanged artworks and blows – always abiding by the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules – and shared a sense of poetry. Two friends now reunited, in an exceptional exhibition at the Mayoral gallery. When Calder met Miró, the Catalan artist was creating a diminutive Spanish dancer, with a feather, a piece of cork and a needle on top of a piece of card. When Miró met Calder, the latter was showing off his circus of wire toys and miniature contraptions to anyone who would watch. It fitted into five suitcases, and he laid on a performance at Miró’s country studio, the Mas de Mont Roig in the south of Catalonia, surrounded by farmers and glasses of wine, while the gramophone played the popular song ‘Ramona, belle brune de Barcelone’.
What better than an exhibition like this one to demonstrate that artists can also be friends, and that beyond the works on display, clouds of spores float up to reveal intangible secrets.