Often in the history of mankind it is the great tragedies of civilizations that have helped create great works of art; times of crisis, famine and even wars that plunged countries into the deepest chaos have developed in artists a critical tendency that ends up being reflected in great works of art. It seems undeniable that a fratricidal war such as the Spanish Civil War caused serious havoc in society but at the same time great works of art were also created. Everyone knows the impact that the Spanish Civil War had on Pablo Picasso's painting, giving rise to the creation of one of his most outstanding works, El Guernica.
In the same context in which Picasso carried out the creation of Guernica, another of the great artists of his time reflected on a canvas the helplessness and desolation caused by the situation in his country, Joan Miro painted in the year 1937 -just one year after the conflict began- the work that we are analyzing here and which is en titled Still Life with an Old Shoe.
The piece is a work painted in oil on canvas that the artist painted in just five months and is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York following a donation from James Trhall Soby in the seventies. The workIt is much less explicit than the piece by Picasso. In fact, the analysis of the decontextualized painting, that is, outside the historical context in which Spain was immersed at that time, presents one more still life in which the most striking thing is the chromatic composition. For the Spanish artist, the horrors of war -of any war and not specifically that of Spain- are summarized in a set of objects that he places on a table in the foreground and that, due to the lights and shadows, as well as the color scheme used, they are not easy to identify.
On the table the artist presents us with a half-empty bottle, a loaf of bread as a symbol of the lack of food during the war, an apple with a fork stuck in it and an old and scruffy shoe that completes the scheme. According to the artist himself, the inspiration to carry out this work was taken from a canvas by the post-impressionist artist Vicent Van Gogh en titled Old Shoes.
Unlike his other compositions, this time the artistrepresents objects with volume, forgetting the two dimensions. The colors are also different, strong and acidic, which cause a strong attraction in the viewer's gaze as if they were neon lights, but which make it difficult to recognize the objects that are represented on the canvas.