Miró, Joan


Joan Miró

Barcelona, 1893

Palma de Mallorca, 1983


Born into a family with a long-standing artisan tradition, Miró studied business and attended classes at La Llotja in Barcelona from 1907, where he teachers were Urgell and Pascó. Between 1912 and 1925 he was a student in Francesc Gallí’s class, who was open to modern education, where he met Artigas and Ricart. He held his first exhibition in 1918 at the Dalmau Galleries in Barcelona. The following year he went to Paris where he made contact with Picasso, Jacob and members of the Dadaist movement such as Tzara. From that time onwards, he lived between the French capital and Mont-roig. His painting, influenced up to that time by Fauvism, Expressionism and Cubism, began to evolve towards a greater formal definition. 

In 1921 he met Masson, Reverdy, Jacob and Raynal and, shortly afterwards, Breton. A year later he took part in the first Surrealist painting exhibition held in Paris, at the Galerie Pierre. Along with Max Ernst, he created the sets and costumes for the Romeo and Juliet ballet by Diaghilev’s company. 

He produced several ‘object-paintings’ in 1928, and two years later his first ‘poetic objects’. In New York he exhibited for the first time in 1930 at the Valentine Gallery and the following year he showed a series of ‘object-paintings’ at the Galerie Pierre Matisse: evidence that his work was starting to become recognized internationally. In the 1930s he reaffirmed his desire to leave conventional painting behind in favor of a freer and more contemporary form of expression, and distanced himself from the Surrealist circle to develop independently. In 1934 he began his ‘wild paintings’, characterized by the use of chiaroscuro, strong modeling, vivid colors and the formal distortion of figures. In 1937 he created the mural The Reaper, commissioned by the government of the Second Spanish Republic for the International Exposition in Paris. 

During the Second World War, Miró left Paris for Varengeville and later, after the bombing of Normandy, back to Palma de Mallorca and Mont-Roig. From 1944 he resumed painting on canvas. His post-war paintings were bigger and more pared-back in terms of aesthetics.  At that time he was also experimenting with sculpture in bronze and ceramic, a technique he would use to create murals for open spaces and public buildings, in which he collaborated with Josep Llorens i Artigas. During a stay in New York, he explored the art of engraving at the studio of Stanley W. Hayter. 

In 1958 he unveiled his ceramic murals at the UNESCO building in Paris, for which he won the Grand Prize from the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1975, the Miró Foundation was opened in Barcelona in a building designed by José Luis Sert that houses a large selection of paintings, sculptures and graphic works donated by the artist. 

Noemi de Haro