Antoni Gaudi [Binding and dust jacket designed by Joan Miró]
by Sweeney, James Johnson ; Josep Lluis Sert ; Joan Miro
New York: Frederick A. Praeger. Fine in Very Good+ dust jacket. 1960. First Edition. Hardcover. 191 &  pages; Handsome publisher's binding of yellow/tan cloth with a vivid design screen-printed in blue, flat spine lettered in blue, and a striking pictorial dust jacket -- both the binding and dust jacket were designed by Joan Miró]. Both authors of this significant monograph on the great Catalan architect Gaudi (18521926) have a connection to architecture and their subject. Josep Lluís Sert i López, of course, was, himself, a great architect -- born in Barcelona, where Gaudi's most impressive work remains. One of Sert's early buildings was the birthplace of one of the most important masterworks of world art. From 1937 through 1939 he lived in Paris, where he designed the Spanish Republic's pavilion at the Paris Exposition of 1937 -- [Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne]. Sert's Spanish Pavilion was built right beside the Nazi Germany Pavilion [architect: Albert Speer]. The USSR pavillion was directly across, making for a site with more than usual antagonistic energy as in Spain, the Civil War was raging and the Nazis had just bombed the town of Guernica. For the artistic content of the building, Sert called on his Spanish artist friends Picasso & Miró; Picasso's contribution was the unforgetable painting 'Guernica' which became the focal attraction of Sert's design. His Pavilion also displayed 'The Reaper' by Joan Miró -- ("El segador" or "El campesino catalán en rebeldía"). Miró painted this mural in response to Sert's commission in June 1937, directly onto six large square celotex insulation panels forming part of the structure of Sert's Spanish Pavilion. The later history of Picasso's Guernica is one of the best known stories in 20th century art; Sert's co-author of this monograph, James Johnson Sweeney, played a significant role in arranging to fulfill Picasso's wish that his painting find a temporary home in New York's Museum of Modern Art, where Sweeney was the active curator from 1935-1946. Both 'Guernica' and Sert's Spanish Pavillion are now back in Spain -- the painting's permanent home was built in the same year that the reconstruction of Sert's evocative and influential Spanish Pavillion was re-erected: 1992. Alas, Miró's 'The Reaper' is now lost, even though the celotex panels on which it was painted were sent back to Spain along with the rest of the building after the 1937 Exhibition closed; only a few b/w photographs survive. But Sert's bond and friendship with Joan Miró has left lasting monuments. Sert designed a studio and home for the artist and his wife in Palma, Majorca -- (now the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró). One of Sert's last European buildings was the 1975 Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain. Josep Lluís Sert grew up in Barcelona with Gaudi's influence as a constant presence. James Johnson Sweeney had a long working exposure to unusual architectural genius; he was the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 1952 to 1960, the period of the genesis and first construction of the magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim Museum in New York. Together, their monograph played a significant part in the re-evaluation of Gaudi as an architectural master. Their friendship with Joan Miró enabled this book to be, itself, a masterpiece of modern design. This is a lovely copy of the U.S. edition (printed in Germany; there were also editions in Germany and the U.K.) The volume is fine and clean, with Miró's shaped panel in blue on the front cover in fresh condition. His dust jacket remains clean and intact, with just a couple of short, closed tears from the bottom edge. . (Inventory #: 39570)
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