The King's Jester (Le fou du roi)

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Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983)
The King's Jester (Le fou du roi), 1926
Oil, pencil, and charcoal on canvas
45 × 57 1/2 in. (114.3 × 146.05 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice W. Berger M1966.142
Photo credit: John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Spain, VEGAP
Currently on View

In 1925–27 the Surrealist artist Joan Miró painted over 100 works in which a few shapes or figures float in an undifferentiated open space. In part the product of a hallucinatory state induced by extreme hunger during this period of poverty, works such as The King’s Jester were equally the visual expression of dreams and the unconscious that the Surrealists sought to tap into. Deceptively childlike in its simplicity, the composition exhibits a sophisticated ambiguity in elements with multiple readings: the jester’s red cap could be flames or a cockscomb; the black triangle of a body could be a mountain or volcano; the eyes could be rocks. The outline drawing does not contain or even follow the color areas. The painting hovers tantalizingly between figuration and abstraction.

Publication History
Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 25 and 69, cat. 34, color illus. p. 25.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 126, color illus.

20th-Century Masters from the Milwaukee Art Museum (Catalogue), 1994–95.

Abe, Nobuo, ed. dir., 20th Century Masters from the Milwaukee Art Museum. Translated and edited by Brain Trust Ince. Japan: 20th Century Masters from the Milwaukee Art Museum Catalogue Committee, 1994. Exhibition catalogue pp. 56–57 and 134–135, cat. 18, color illus. p. 57.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, pp. 144–45, color illus. p. 145.

Joan Miró. London: Tate Gallery. 1964, cat. 66.

Musée National d'Art Moderne. Collection André Lefèvre: Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, mars–avril 1964. Paris: Musée National d'Art Moderne, 1964, cat. 194.
Exhibition History
Surrealism: Communicating Vessels, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 28–September 25, 2011.

Joan Miro: Snail Woman Flower Star, Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf, Germany, July 13–October 6, 2002.

20th Century Masters from the Milwaukee Art Museum, Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo, July 2–August 9, 1994; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, August 11–September 4, 1994; Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art, Asahikawa, September 10–October 16, 1994; Daimaru Museum, Umeda-Osaka, October 19–November 7, 1994; Chiba Sogo Museum of Art, Chiba, November 26–December 29, 1994; Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Marugame, January 14–February 26, 1995.

Joan Miro, Arts Council of Great Britain at Tate Gallery, London, August 26, 1964.

Collection Andre Lefevre, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris, March–April 1964.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.