The theme of this work, which is highlighted by the snaking ladder in the centre of the composition, is believed to refer to the artist's desire to escape the horrors of war which were seen across Europe at that time. The Escape Ladder was, essentially, his visual representation of a desire to escape to a quieter part of the continent, and the birds found in this painting signify the dangers that would exist if he did not move. Ultimately the artist took his family to Mallorca, and from there he would produce an interesting body of work which can rival any other period of his career. Whilst he achieved his own liberation, it is clear that the artist still feared the German army at that time, both for himself but also for others who were not so fortunate as being able to relocate. He would create his constellation series whilst somewhat short of artistic materials, but with an abundance of ideas to work through.
The series was consistent in style, with abstract shapes placed over smoky backgrounds. He limited each piece to just a few colours, always boldly added to simple shapes, with red, black, white and blue being his most common choices. Many of these abstract shapes were hard for us mere mortals to identify and understand but over the years some historians have been able to produce fairly solid conclusions as to the overall meanings of each component, as well as the overall theme of the series. Today these items are spread across a variety of public and private collections, but in 2011-2012 many were re-united for an exhibition which toured across the US, UK and Spain.
The Ladder of Escape Exhibition in Barcelona and London, 2011-2012
This painting would inspire the title for a major exhibition of Joan Miro's art which took place within several countries over the period of 2011 to 2012. Collaborations between different institutions are not uncommon and can be a sensible way for different collections to come together in order to fairly easily put together a focused exhibition on a particular artist's work. The overall selection of work would travel from Tate Modern in London to the Joan Miró Foundation before then ending in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, spending around four months in each location so that as many interested visitors could see the display as possible. The items were then returned to their respective owners. The overall display featured r 170 works – paintings, sculptures and drawings, and a publication on the event is still available today.