Biography of Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Joan Miró.

Painter and Spanish sculptor born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893 and died in Palma de Mallorca on December 25, 1983. His figure and production have been of great importance in the course of the international avant-garde of the twentieth century, both because of the peculiar emphasis and balance that put his work in expression and experimentation, as by their singular significance, especially with respect to the surrealist movement, which Miro took active part, and to the subsequent development of expressionist abstraction, which was inspired by his creations.

First contacts with painting

Red Wings Dragonfly chasing a snake sliding spiral towards the star cometa, Joan Miró.

Although his initial drawings date back to 1901 (callista), his studies in this field did not arrive until 1907, date in which, at the same time, he/she enrolled in Barcelona at the trade school and at the school of fine arts of la Lonja, which had as a teacher to the Symbolist landscape Modest Urgell and Josep Pasco Merisawho taught him applied arts. At seventeen, after completing the trade, began working as accountant in a company of metallurgy and chemistry, which ended him causing a mild nervous breakdown and typhoid, situation which was recovering in the farmhouse which, by that time, his family acquired in Montroig (Tarragona), village of his paternal grandparents that Miro went periodically, and that turned out to be an important place in his career. Thus, abandoned by the family expectations as an accountant of the future painter, in 1912 (and up to 1915), this was inscribed in Barcelona at the Escola d'art Gali, Academy of unconventional teaching which coincided with Enric C. Ricart, Josep F. Ràfols and Josep Llorens Artigas, who always kept a great friendship. The following year he/she enrolled in the courses of drawing of the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc, which also gave its members the opportunity to present, attended until 1918.

That same year Miró, which long ago had rented a Studio with Ricart and had met Josep Dalmau Gallery, exhibited his first individual exhibition in Barcelona Gallery of the latter, an exhibition consisting of more than sixty-four works whose interest descriptive, vivid colors and restless lines left to feel significant Fauvist and Cubist influences. Also that year, on the other hand, within the aforementioned Cercle de Sant Lluc (next to Ricart, Rafols, f. Sunday, R. room and, then, Llorens Artigas), he/she founded the Agrupació Courbet, painter whose radicalism admired and wanted to transpose it to advance in the intensity and force of color and line (see Jean Courbet). For Barcelona, starting from here, began a new phase, called "phase retailer" by his friend Ràfols (1918-1923), which was characterized by a singular reality, played a great poetry, by the artist through a thorough and careful Bill, a great thoroughness to detail, a geometric lyric and a delicate colorful canvas carrymode which left clearly reflected in one of the highlights of this moment, the farmhouse, made of canvas between 1921 and 1922, halfway between the teachings of Montroig and Paris, which was then acquired by the writer Ernest Hemingway.

However, when Joan Miró took their first contact with Paris, in 1919, his most interesting production just had many landscapes of his Catalonia in origin. They had managed to synthesize the lessons of fauvism and Cubism, juxtaposing the precise realistic details and geometric treatment. The combination of the real and the abstract, already hovering at these works, wouldn't take long to mature in contact with surrealism, thereby setting the characteristic style of Miró, so full of painting and poetry.

The development of his art in Paris

In fact, from 1921 Miró began to interact with André Masson, his neighbor's workshop in the street Blomet, and, through him, with the poets and painters of the surrealist group coming. In the meantime, was producing and exhibiting (important were now their single Parisian Gallery La Licorne, in 1921, and the Cameleon Club, in 1923) works as the aforementioned La masia (1921-1922), tilled (1923-1924) or catalan landscape (1923-1924), even presurrealistas, although their succession revealed not only a clear personal evolution, stretching from the first conciliation of the Cubist geometry and naturalistic detail until the subsequent union of spontaneity and fantasy, but also a not less obvious stylistic prefiguration. In fact, in 1924, Miro was fully integrated into the Paris surrealist group and, the following year, not only held (at the Pierre Gallery) a solo show, which was to become one of the first milestones plastics of surrealist activity, but that he/she also participated in the first group show organized by the group.

Works presented in these exhibitions, such as maternity leave (1924), the gentleman (1924) or siesta (1925), were announced a new conception of the representation of space and shapes on the canvas, as well as they have highlighted its proximity to the literary and the dreamlike experience. I.e. in his canvases, a smooth and almost monochrome background was a prodigious world of shapes and figures significant and schematic, coming often to the ideation and children's fantasy. A and others were grouped into compositions that, by way of imagenes-poema, usually leaving Screener, one side, your reference or literary closeness or plastic (some evidence provides the frequent presence of words, letters, numbers or known images and symbols), and another, their sensitivity to the flow of the imagination and dreams.

Man with pipe (1925).

Encouraged by the success of the above samples, since 1925, without losing its unique style, Miró advanced along the road of research, although in a double aspect: that of the automatism, by one hand, and the simplification of forms and the language of signs, on the other. Thus, in certain works, such as the birth of the world (1925), where (in addition to the fast strokes) the different layers of glaze of the Fund were obtained with great freedom technical and creative (rub with sponges, resulting from splashes of shocks with the brush and smooth paint spills), the experience of the operator was clearly dominant; However, in others, as character throwing a stone at a bird (1926), in which until the line that describes the trajectory of the stone becomes a narrative element, the main research occurs around the value of suggestion of shapes and signs from them.

This research path, will serve both catalan painter inspired by the undulating organic forms of sculpture of Hans Arp, to apply them to the outline and simplification of the figures of the last mentioned work or the dog barking at the Moon (1926), landscape (Hare) (1927), etc. As, by modifying the process, mode which can be seen in its Dutch interiors (1928), will take advantage of you starting from the old Dutch masters of the 17TH century painting and take your details of precise realism to transform them into a whole new world of fantastic shapes. All this, in one way or another, will be included to their spontaneous and dreamlike style. However, works as a Spanish Dancer (1928), where Miro joined the inquiry with the Cubist collage, show that, at the end of the 1920s, double his explorations shed also has another Summit, whose development will be based on its production of the 30's.

Spanish Dancer (1928).

Indeed, Miró, in the Decade of 1930, did not, therefore, but widen the possibilities art of this double ferment researcher, described above, and thus, he/she was stated as one of the most prominent and personal examples of surrealist art. In this evolution, the series painted in 1933 in Barcelona, composed of eighteen large canvases in which departed from the base of the collage, is certainly among the most representative of your concern. Miró met reproductions, taken from catalogues and magazines, mechanical objects, tools, daily utensils and, in general, of products deliberately free of poetry, to conform unfinished collages or assemblies, keeping until the 'automatic' inspiration gave them form. As in the case of the abovementioned Barcelona pictures, the starting point of these suggestions, the careful composition and the implementation of a limited range of bright colours, characteristic of his painting, was the imaginative Miró needed to incorporate those forms into his world of organic figuration.

While the process followed by Miró in the elaboration of their works seems to away from the real reasons for inspiration, the truth is that the painter never went on to lose the relationship with the real world (of technology, for example, in later works). Miro painting, certainly, was becoming less rich in anecdotal details during the 1930s and, at the same time, their signs were simplifying and vocabularies continued to widen; However, the painter remained accessible.

On the other hand, in terms of the outside world, although Miró always stood quite apart from politics, militant commitments and complaints of (something nothing easy or frequent) group among the surrealists, the situation of the Spain of the 1930s caused him a concern that transcended to his work. In his creations of 1933 had already made appearance aggressiveness and monstrous or deformed and, starting from the following year characters, Miró began his series of "wild" pictures: female (1934), rope and people I (1935), the food of the peasant (1935), man and woman before a heap of droppings (1936), etc. This last work, say, that was considered by the artist as a kind of premonition unaware of the disaster approaching (war Spanish and world), shows a couple of characters with sex well marked and disproportionate limbs, actively highlighted by the contrasting colours and suggestive dimensions. Moreover, within an atmosphere of strong chiaroscuro (which contributes to some tragic and unreal nature scene), signs and forms of picture, almost childish associations of perception and emotional distortion of the elements-from, adapt spontaneously to the tense feeling that overwhelms the author.

Snail, female, flower, Star (1934).

The Spanish Civil war and its impact on the work of Miró

His concern for the moment is living, however, was not here. At the beginning in 1936 the Spanish war, Miró returned to Paris, where he/she remained until 1940. He/She began to paint in the capital still life with old shoe (1937), one of the works that then considered most important. It used a series of everyday objects (an Apple with a stuck fork, a Geneva wrapped bottle, a piece of black bread and an old shoe), close to the iconography of the beggar and the Bohemian, and retook the realism of his earlier works to translate it. It seemed to want a deep box, but easy to understand, with objects common, poor, and connected with the plain people. However, the simplicity of these objects seem to burn in the darkness of apocalyptic circumstances. And, the contrasts between the intensity of the black and green that looms them and own incandescence, which seems to emanate from the purity of the color of objects, undoubtedly provides them, much less, a sort of disturbing halo.

This desasosegado weather is common in the works of those years. In 1937, in fact, Miró not only carried out an energetic poster (and seal) antifranquista, Aidez l'Espagne, in which a powerful figure raises a strong fist crying out for freedom, but it also carried out, for the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic at the Universal exhibition in Paris, a large mural with the figure of monumental of a catalan with the sickle high farmer. This work, entitled the Reaper (the catalan peasant in absentia), now lost, apart from the nationalist implications (the Reaper figure represented since the 17TH century Catalan freedoms lost), has a close relation with the above poster and "wild" painting of these years. It was, moreover, a great revolutionary symbol (boards of "celotex" on which it was painted occupied two floors), in keeping with the propagandistic function, around the tragic situation of Spain, which had all the Pavilion and most of his works. The famous Guernica, in similar circumstances, is undoubtedly the best known example of such intention, but should not be forgotten the intense mural Miró, although its author considered that his still life of old shoe was greater relationship of analogy with the acclaimed work of Malaga's Reaper (see Pablo Picasso).

While the horrors of the civil conflict continued in Spain, the human figure offered a cruel image in the painting by Miró. The female, as head of a woman (1938) or seated woman (1938), was thus transformed into a tragic, deformed and aggressive. However, in 1939 he/she settled in Varengeville-sur-Mer, along with other artists, and there began a new phase of its production inspired by the music and nature. It was an astonishing series of 23 gouaches, which began in January 1940 and ended (already in Palma de Mallorca) in September 1941, with the generic title of constellations. Then, installed in the Catalan capital, made in 1942 series Barcelona, 50 lithographs. The first series was a flight from the horrors of the war towards the interior, articulating a complex network of stars, Suns, figures and symbols intertwined, whose forms, away from human affairs, is dynamized by the change of systematic color that occurs when crossing the lines and figures. The second, on the contrary, focused especially on the theme of woman and bird, surrounded (that if) of solar signs, starfish and undulating curves. Its colorful, moreover, is less bright than the constellations and reflects aggressive closest to the "wild" period. The first series, in any case, was that more transcendent, as explained in New York shortly after WWII ended. It highlighted her intended distribution of forms by the surface of the picture and a refreshing drawing improvisation, which exerted great influence on the new school of painting New York and, especially, in figures pioneers of Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock.

On the other hand, we should not forget the sculpture of Miró, which, thanks to an overflowing imagination, intuition, experimentation and the poetic Association of elements in principle supported strangers, although usually taken from the immediate surroundings of the artist, he/she knew how to create their own, recognizable artistic world. Miró sculpture, however, must be put in relation to the rapid development that took in the surreal field the new look and design of the object, both the so-called "surrealist object" (which includes the "plastico-poetica" orientation and the "operating symbolic' defined by Dali), as the"found object", since artists of the movement offered an invaluable creative medium with capacity to fix and make tangiblequickly, the world of dreams, fantasy, obsessive aspects and surreal ideation. Especially in a period like the second half of the 1930s, in which, with the complication of international socio-political affairs, it tended to disqualify any art exclusively supported in ideas. Of ahi que, in the international exhibition which marked the apotheosis of surrealism, held in the Gallery of Beaux Arts of Paris in 1938 and in which, after the setting conceived by Duchamp, all experiences and surrealist demonstrations attended, "objects" predominate over any other creation. Thus, this new creative use of the object, also participated widely and prominently Miró, was a fundamental contribution of the movement surrealist, that this also knew great publicizing tempted many artists, having a sweeping impact in all further manifestations of object-based art.

Following this process, Miró inquiries regarding the introduction of new materials in his works, which the artist began at the end of the 1920s, were rapidly increasing in the new decade of the 1930s, during which, in addition to his painting the possibilities that was found on his experiences with the collage, the relief, the assemblies and objectsThis type of creation was taking entity in itself. Thus, when inspiration suggested him the way, combined, adapted, or assembled found objects, tools, debris, stones and everyday utensils, even helping the modeling if needed. In this way, in 1931, he/she created works such as man and woman or object with network, in which used materials found as Woods, chains, nails or wire networks; but such objects (which in turn will serve as support to draw different figures of his fantasy oil) still seem to be more based on the pictorial context.

Not the case with his character, object which was cloned in 1931, along with a famous text of Dalí on the surrealist objects (despite having been destroyed, the object was reconstructed in 1977); Although, despite everything (and opposite the dalinian objects of symbolic operation), was worked with a great distance and an apparent plasticity. It was a sculpture, of size natural and made of wood, presenting a gentleman (he excelled a round nose and a long phallus) to imaginative portrait mode, carrying an umbrella and a bouquet of foliage. And hardly allowed the object of this piece handling, as it is the case with most of the mironianos Assembly, according to another operation that was not plastic.

This poetic and symbolic sense continued to increase in subsequent parts, as shown in his poetic, 1936 object, built with a variety of found objects: a bowler (accompanied by a fish and a map) that installs a wood block, drain to hold a leg of doll dressed in League, average and shoe, which in turn supports a parrot dissected into a wooden hangerfrom which dangle a cork ball. This set of shocking objects was not, as more than a metaphor, a vehicle that served the objectification of feeling, imagination and dreams. However, fantasy side soon give way before the restlessness and bad presentiments, because, as stated before, conflicts of the time did not leave unmoved Miró. Thus, as in his paintings, pieces as the object of the Twilight (1937), showing so much roughness and heaviness in the chosen materials, such as violence and evidence in female references, there are to put them in relation to the cruelty with which tried to figure human in its creations of these moments.

Return to Spain

The quoted return to Spain's catalan was definitive. During the Franco dictatorship Miró led a life quite reserved and dedicated to his work in Montroig, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona. At the same time, its post-1945 production was diversified. The artist is strongly interested in the mural, sculpture, prints and ceramics with the intention to broaden their experience. Large commissions for murals, such as the of the Terrace Hilton Hotel of Cincinatti (1947), the dining room of the Harvard University Graduate School (1950-1951), became, in addition, the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris (1955-1958), the Ecole Supérieure de sciences économiques of Saint Galle (1964), the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence (1964-1968), the airport of Barcelona (1970), the Glass Pavilion of the Universal exhibition in Osaka (1970)the Barcelona building of IBM (1976), the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen (1976) or the Palacio de Congresos and exhibitions of Madrid (1980).

Many of these murals were made in ceramic, aided by his friend Josep Llorens Artigas, who began performing his first ceramic works in 1944; but, at the same time, also the construction of assemblies from scrap or sculpture objects interested Miró (for example) forms opulent, not to mention already Giant sculptures, installed in several places European and American; the series of drawings and engravings or the set designer for ballet costumes. Despite this, his art has nothing of decorative. It was more instinctive and experimental than rational and exquisite, bringing like no human feeling and the vision of the forms to the set of essential symbols, with dense meaning and lasting permanence.

No wonder, therefore, that so admirable career and influence outside recognized with several awards and distinctions obtained by Miró, as, among others, the Grand Prize international of the engraving of the Venice Biennale (1954); the Grand Prize by the Guggenheim Foundation (1959); the Carnegie Prize for painting (1967); the appointments of doctor honoris causes by the universities of Harvard (1968) and Barcelona (1979); or the award of the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya (1978) and the Medal of gold of the fine arts of the State Spanish (1980). Also not surprising, for the preservation and study of his work, in 1975 was it inaugurated in Barcelona Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d'Estudis d´Art Contemporani, or that in 1979 creation of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró de Palma de Mallorca. But in addition to these institutions, numerous museums and collections from different parts of the world have dealt with having well represented the work of Miró, as it happens, in addition to specific already cited, in New York (Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Paris (Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre George Pompidou;) Musée de la Ville; Musee Picasso; Musée d'Orsay); Madrid (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum); Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Fondation Maeght); London (Tate Gallery); Washington (National Gallery); Philadelphia (Philadelphia Museum of Art); Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago); Cleveland (Cleveland Museum of Art); Stockholm (Moderna Museet); or Petersburgo (Hermitage Museum), among others. In February 2004, the Centre Pompidou in Paris hosted a major retrospective of the work of the artist under the title "Joan Miró 1917-1934: the naissance du monde ' ('the birth of the world') which included more than 240 pieces including paintings, drawings, collages, objects and sculptures.

Untitled III (1973).

Characters, birds, constellations (1976).

In January 2006 the Foundation Pilar I Joan Miró published a manifesto of six hundred pages in which arose the complete catalog of the work of the Barcelona artist, with the title of Miró, which includes thousand seven hundred works of his legacy.

Links on the Internet; Joan Miró Foundation.; Some works of the author.


AA. VV. (BIRO, Adam and PASSERON, René, dirs.): Dictionnaire Général du Surréalisme et de ses Environs, Freiburg, Presses Universitaires de France, 1982

AA. VV. (GARCÍA DE CARPI, Lucia, Commissioner): surrealism in Spain, (exhibition catalog...), Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, October 1994-January 1995

AA. VV. (GUIGON, Emmanuel, Commissioner): surrealism and the Spanish civil war, (exhibition catalog...), Teruel, Teruel Museum, October-December, 1998

AA. VV. (SPIES, Werner; Jacques DUPIN and HAMMACHER-VAN DEN BRANDE, Renilde; Commissioners): Picasso, Miró, Dalí. Evocations d'Espagne, (exhibition catalog...), Charleroi, Palais des Beaux-Arts (Europalia 85 Spain), 1985

CARMONA, Eugenio (Commissioner): Picasso, Miró, Dalí and the origins of contemporary art in Spain, 1900-1936, (exhibition catalog...), Frankfurt/Madrid, Schirn Kunsthalle/Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, October 1986-January 1987

CATALA-Roca, Francesc: Miró noranta anys, Barcelona, Edicions 62, 1984

CIRICI PELLICER, Alexandre: Miró and the imagination, Barcelona, Ediciones Omega, 1949

CIRICI PELLICER, Alexandre: Looked at his work, work, 1970

CIRLOT, Juan Eduardo: Joan Miró, Barcelona, cobalt, 1949

COMBALIA, Victoria: Picasso-miro. Looks cross, Madrid, Electa, 1998

CORREDOR-MATHEOS, José: Miró, Madrid, Ministry of education and science, 1971

CORREDOR-MATHEOS, José and PICAZO Gloria: posters of Miró, Polígrafa, Barcelona, 1980

DUPIN, Jacques: Joan Miró. The vie et l'ouvre, Paris, Flammarion, 1961

DUPIN, Jacques (text): Joan Miró sculptor, Caixa de Pensions, November-December 1980

DUPIN, Jacques; CATALÀ-ROCA, Francesc and PRATS, Joan: regarded sculptor, Polígrafa, 1972

DUPIN, Jacques: Looked graveur, 1928-1960, Paris, Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984

GASCH, Sebastià: Joan Miró, Barcelona, Ed. Alcides, 1963

GIMFERRER, Pere: He/She looked and their world, Polígrafa, 1978

LANCHNER, Carolyn (curator): Joan Miró, (exhibition catalog...), The Museum Of Modern Art, New York, October 1993-January 1994

MALET, María Rosa: The work of Joan Miró. Painting, sculpture, textiles, Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró i, 1979

MALET, María Rosa: Joan Miró, Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1983

Melia, Josep: Joan Miró. Life and testimony, [1973], Barcelona, Dopesa, 1975

MINK, Janis: Joan Miró, 1893-1983, Colonia, Benedikt-Taschen, 1993

MIRÓ, Joan: Notebooks catalanes, [1976], Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1980

MIRÓ, Joan: Conversations with Miró, [1977], Barcelona, Doubleday Editor, 1978

MOURE, Gloria (curator): sculptor, regarded (exhibition catalog...), Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, October 1986-January 1987

PENROSE, Roland: Looked, [1970], Barcelona, Daimon, 1976

PENROSE, Roland; GOMIS, PRATS, Joaquim, and Joan: creation in the space of Joan Miró, Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1966

PERUCHO, Joan: Joan Miró i Catalunya, Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1970

PIERRE, José: Surrealism, Madrid, Aguilar, 1970

RUBIN, William: Looked in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1973

SERRA, Pere A.: Looked i Mallorca, Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1984

SWEENEY, James Johnson: Joan Miró, (exhibition catalog...), New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1941

SWEENEY, James Johnson: Joan Miró, Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1970

TAILLANDIER, Yvon: Mirografias, Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, 1972

WEELEN, Guy: Joan Miró, Paris, Nouvelles Éditions, 1984