Joan Miro

1893 - 1983

country: Spain

movement: Surrealism Abstract art Cubism

Short Biography

On April 20, 1893 Joan Miro (Joan Miro' i Ferra`) was born in Barcelona. He was a Catalan (Spanish) painter, sculptor, graphic artist and designer.

1907: Miro studied at La Lonja School of Fine Arts where he was taught by Modesto Urgell;

1910: he took a bookkeeping course at a business school in Barcelona on the insistence of his parents; then he worked as an accountant;

1911: serious illness, recovery on his parents’ farm in Mont-roig, which was to become a permanent source of inspiration for him in future; Miro commits himself to becoming an artist;

from 1912: studies at the private school of Francisco Gali in Barcelona; the first paintings;

1914: creation of his first well-known painting “The Farmer”

1915: the end of the studies at the school of Gali; the first studio in Barcelona; six months of military service;

February 16, 1917: Miro’s first solo exhibition wass held, however, none of sixty-four paintings, mainly in Fauvist style, was sold (“Self-Portrait”, “Portrait of Ricart”, etc.). “I think that after the grand movement of Impressionists, Symbolists, after Fauvists and Cubists… we have come to free art with the main focus on interior vibrations of a creative soul. This modern analytical movement will raise the spirit to the vibrant freedom” (from a letter to Ricart)

1918: change of the artist’s painting style towards more detail (“The Vegetable Garden with Donkey”, “Cart Tracks”, etc.)

1920: the first visit to Paris, getting acquainted with Picasso and other artists. Cubist paintings: “Standing Nude”, “The Table (Still Life with Rabbit)”, etc.

1921: a studio at 45, Blomet street; creation of “Blomet Street Group”; Miro’s first international exhibition which also failed. Work at his famous “The Farm”, which was later bought by Ernest Hemingway.

1923-1924: the beginning of the Surrealist period in Miro’s creative work. Significant works: “Ploughed Land”, “The Hunter (Catalan Landscape)”, “Pastoral”, “The Family”

1925: Blomet Street Group joined Surrealist movement. “Miro is the most Surrealist of us all,” Breton says

1926-1927: development of Miro’s own style, which is purer, more abstract and more synthetic. “Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird”, “Dog Barking at the Moon”, a series of works called “Painting”

1928: a trip to Holland; “Dutch Interior” – a series inspired by Old Masters’ (Van Dyke, Hals, Vermeer) works

October 12, 1929: Joan Miro married Pilar Juncosa Iglesias from the island of Mallorca

July 17, 1930: their only daughter Mary was born

1933: an exhibition of Miro’s collages was held in Barcelona. This time it was favorably received by the public.

1936: The Spanish Civil War started which was to last until Franco’s victory in 1939. Miro lives on the farm in seclusion but his heart is with Republicans and he fights using his art. “Head of a Man” (1937), “Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement” (1936)

1937: Miro moved to Paris. A lot of artists, writers, scientists and politicians fleeing from Fascism found temporary shelter in the French capital. Miro did not have an apartment or studio and had to live in a small cheap hotel with his family. His painting “Still Life with Old Shoe” appeared as an image of poverty, famine and adversities spread over Europe at that time. That year the International Exhibition was held in Paris where famous Picasso’s Guernica was presented. Miro painted the poster “Help Spain!” calling the whole world for fight against Fascism.

1938: search for a new synthetic language. This period comprises self-portraits performed in a new manner, “A Star Caresses the Breasts of a Negro Woman”, “Seated Woman I” and “Seated Woman II”.

1939-1944: Fascism was spreading over Europe and Miro, worried about his family’s safety, moved to Varengeville, a small village on the Normandy coast. There, he turned away from the outside world and the war, shrank into himself and started working at the amazingly beautiful series “Constellations”. There is no violence or hate in these works, they are pure and gorgeous.
Then, Miro moved to Paris where he tried to board one of the ships leaving for the USA. But the amount of people wishing to leave was enormous, there were no tickets available and Miro left for Spain just eight days before the occupation of Paris. In Spain Miro’s family found shelter at Pilar’s parents’, on Mallorca. There, he finished “Constellations”. He contemplated, meditated and searched for new creative languages, tried some new forms: pottery, engraving, lithography.

1945: Pierre Matisse exhibited “Constellations” for the first time. The exhibition was a great success and that was the beginning of the artist’s worldwide recognition. In 1940 Miro wrote in one of his letters to Pierre Matisse: “I believe that “Constellations” are the most important of my works. Although their formats are small, they make the impression of huge frescoes. Exhibiting the series will make a great exposition.”

1947: the artist was commissioned to paint walls of the restaurant Le Gourmet and the veranda of Hilton hotel in Cincinnati.

1948: Miro returned to Paris where he participated in a number of exhibitions being already a recognized master.

1950: another commission in the USA. This time it was a fresco for Harvard University. In general, the late 1940s provided the artist with a lot of travelling and a lot of commissions ranging from pottery to wall frescoes.
1953 was the year when the artistic union of Joan Miro and Llorence Artigas was created. In the small village of Gallifa, among the mountains of Catalonia, there is a kiln named “Nikosthenes” after the great potter of Ancient Greece. It is where the two artists inspired by the beauty of nature and elated by artistic freedom created their fantastic works. In 1956, the exhibition called “Lands of Great Fires” was held in the Gallery Maeght in Paris where 32 pottery items of the artistic duet were presented. The exhibition was a total success with the public.

In 1955 the artist was commissioned to paint walls of the UNESCO office in Paris. He decided to work with Artigas and to use pottery. This resulted in creating the admirable “The Sun and the Moon”. The authors won Grand Prix of Gugenheim Foundation. In 1953 Miro was already 60 years old but he still did not have any artistic abode of his own. However, dreams come true, and between 1954 and 1956 his friend, architect Sert, built a wonderful studio for him not far from Palma. And in a couple of years Miro bought the adjacent plot of land, “Son Boter”, with a two-storey house.

In the late 60s and early 70s Miro wass fascinated by sculpture and discovered new opportunities for self-expression. Volumes and materials were the new riddle which he solved to create numerous wonderful sculptural compositions.

In 1970s Miro, who was always committed to the idea of making art accessible for all people, conceived and created Miro Foundation with the whole-hearted support of Pilar and his friends. “No, Miro Foundation is not a museum. I wouldn’t like it to be cold, stiff and dead. <...> Young artists will come here to work and exhibit their works,” Joan Miro said.
In 1975 and 1979 the Foundation in Barcelona and the Foundation on Mallorka opened their doors for new generations of creators.

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