Joan Miró


Joan Miró, born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893 and died in Palma de Mallorca on December 25, 1983, was a Catalan painter, sculptor, engraver and ceramist. Defining himself above all as “international Catalan”, he is one of the main representatives of the Surrealist movement.

His work reflects his attraction to the subconscious, to the “childlike spirit” and to his country. In his early work, he shows strong Fauvist, Cubist and Expressionist influences, before moving into flat painting with a certain naivety. The painting entitled The Farm, painted in 1921, is one of the best known paintings from this period.

Following his departure for Paris, his work became more dreamlike, which corresponded to the main lines of the Surrealist movement to which he adhered. In numerous interviews and writings in the 1930s, Miró expressed his desire to abandon the conventional methods of painting, to – in his own words – “kill, murder or rape them”, thus favoring a contemporary form of expression. He does not want to bend to any demands, neither to those of aesthetics and its methods, nor to those of surrealism.

In his honor, the Joan Miró Foundation was created in Barcelona in 1975. It is a cultural and artistic center dedicated to the presentation of new trends in contemporary art. It is initially fed by an important fund donated by the master. Other places with important collections of Miró”s work include the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in Lille and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Childhood and studies (1893-1918)

Joan Miró i Ferrà was born on April 20, 1893 in a passageway near Plaça Reial in Barcelona. His father, Miquel Miró i Adzeries, son of a blacksmith from Cornudella, was a goldsmith and owned a jewelry and watch shop. He met Dolores Ferrà i Oromí, the daughter of a Majorcan cabinetmaker, and married her. The couple settled in Calle del Crédit, Barcelona, where their two children, Joan and Dolores, were born. Joan began drawing at the age of eight.

Miró respected his father”s wishes and began to study commerce in 1907, in order to get a good education and to become “someone in life”. However, he abandoned these studies to enroll in the School of Fine Arts in La Llotja that same year, studying with Modest Urgell and Josep Pascó. The drawings from 1907 housed in the Joan Miró Foundation are influenced by the former. Other drawings by the master, executed shortly before his death, bear the words “in memory of Modest Urgell” and summarize Miró”s deep affection for his teacher. There are also drawings from the period when Miró was taught by Josep Pascó, a teacher of decorative arts in the Modernist period. There are, for example, drawings of a peacock and a snake. Miró learned from this teacher the simplicity of expression and the artistic trends in fashion.

At the age of seventeen, Miró worked for two years as a clerk in a colonial food store until, in 1911, he contracted typhus and was forced to retire to a family farm in Mont-roig del Camp, near Tarragona. There he became aware of his attachment to the Catalan land.

Also in 1911, he entered the Art School run by the Baroque architect Francisco Galli in Barcelona, with the firm resolve to be a painter. Despite his reluctance, his father supported his vocation. He stayed there for three years and then attended the Free Academy of the Cercle Saint-Luc, where he drew from nude models until 1918. In 1912, he joined the art academy directed by Francesc d”Assís Galí i Fabra, where he discovered the latest European artistic trends. He attended his classes until the center closed in 1915. At the same time, Miró attended the Cercle Artistique de Saint-Luc, where he learned to draw from nature. In this association he met Josep Francesc Ràfols, Sebastià Gasch, Enric Cristòfor Ricart and Josep Llorens i Artigas, with whom he formed the artistic group known as the Courbet Group, which became known on February 28, 1918, when it appeared in an insert in the newspaper La Publicitat.

Miró discovered modern painting at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona, which had been exhibiting impressionist, fauvist and cubist paintings since 1912. In 1915, he decided to move into a studio, which he shared with his friend Ricart. He met Picabia two years later.

First exhibitions then fame (1918-1923)

The Dalmau Galleries in Barcelona hosted Joan Miró”s first solo exhibition, from February 16 to March 3, 1918. The Catalan painter is exhibited among other artists of diverse influences. The exhibition includes 74 works, landscapes, still lifes and portraits. His early paintings show a clear influence of the French post-impressionist trend, Fauvism and Cubism. The 1917 paintings, Ciurana, the village and Ciurana, the church, show a closeness to the colors of Van Gogh and the landscapes of Cézanne, all reinforced by a dark palette.

One of the paintings from this period that attracts the most attention is Nord-Sud, named after a French magazine from 1917, in which Pierre Reverdy wrote about cubism. In this work, Miró blends features of Cézanne with symbols painted in the manner of the Cubists, Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso. The painting Portrait of V. Nubiola announces the fusion of Cubism with aggressive Fauvist colors. In the spring of 1917, Miró exhibited at the Cercle Artistique de Saint-Luc with members of the Courbet Group.

For years Miró continued to spend his summers in Mont-roig, as was his habit. There he abandoned the hard colors and shapes he had been using until then and replaced them with more subtle ones. He explains this in a letter of July 16, 1918 to his friend Ricart:

“No simplifications or abstractions. Right now I am only interested in the calligraphy of a tree or a roof, leaf by leaf, branch by branch, grass by grass, tile by tile. This does not mean that these landscapes will become cubist or ragingly synthetic. After that, we”ll see. What I propose to do is to work on the canvases for a long time and to finish them as much as possible. At the end of the season and after having worked so hard, it doesn”t matter if I have few paintings. Next winter, the critics will continue to say that I persist in my disorientation.

– Joan Miró

In the landscapes painted at this time, Miró uses a new vocabulary, made of iconography and symbols meticulously selected and organized. For example, in the Vines and Olive Trees of Mont-roig, the roots that are drawn under the earth, and which are completely individualized, represent a physical connection with the earth.

In 1919, Miró made his first trip to Paris. It was only a short stay, but the painter settled permanently in the French capital in the early 1920s. After staying for a while at the Hotel Namur on rue Delambre, and then in a furnished apartment on rue Berthollet, the sculptor Pablo Gargallo helped him find a studio at 45 rue Blomet.

In 1922, Jean Dubuffet gave him his apartment on rue Gay-Lussac. At 45 rue Blomet, Miró met painters and writers who became his friends: André Masson, Max Jacob, Antonin Artaud. This place became an effervescent melting pot where a new language and a new sensibility were developed. Miró found Michel Leiris and Armand Salacrou there. The studio was located a few hundred meters from the rue du Château, where Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duhamel and Jacques Prévert lived. The two groups met often and developed warm friendships. Most of them will join the surrealism. “The rue Blomet is a place, a decisive moment for me. I discovered there all that I am, all that I will become. It was the link between the Montmartre of the surrealists, and the “retarded” of the left bank.

Miró returned to Spain only during the summer months. He met members of the Dada movement and reunited with Picasso, whom he had met in Barcelona. He became friends with the poets Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob and Tristan Tzara. In 1921 he had his first Parisian exhibition at the Galerie La Licorne (organized by Josep Dalmau), with a preface by Maurice Raynal. This exhibition marked the end of his so-called “realistic” period.

From 1921 to 1922, Miró worked on The Farmhouse, which is the main work of this so-called “detailist” period. Begun in Mont-roig and completed in Paris, this painting contains the seeds of all the possibilities that the painter would later take up, bending them towards the fantastic. It is a basic work, a key work, a synthesis of a whole period. The mythical relationship maintained by the master with the land is summed up in this painting, which represents the farmhouse of his family in Mont-roig. He separates the graphic design from the ingenuous and realistic character of the objects, the domestic animals, the plants with which the human being works and the everyday objects of man. Everything is studied in the smallest detail, in what is known as “Miró”s calligraphy”, which is the starting point for Miró”s surrealism in the following years. The last works of his “realist” period were completed in 1923: Interior (The Farm Girl), Flowers and Butterfly, The Carbide Lamp, The Ear of Wheat, Grill and Carbide Lamp.

Once La Ferme was completed, the author decided to sell it for economic reasons. Léonce Rosenberg, who was in charge of Pablo Picasso”s paintings, agreed to take it on deposit. After some time, and at Miró”s insistence, the gallery owner suggested that the painter divide the work into smaller canvases in order to make it easier to sell. Miró, furious, retrieved the painting from his studio before entrusting it to Jacques Viot of the Pierre Gallery. He sold it to the American writer Ernest Hemingway for 5,000 francs.

Surrealism (1923-1930)

In Paris, in 1924, the artist met surrealist poets, including Louis Aragon, André Breton, Paul Éluard, Philippe Soupault, leaders of the magazine Literature and creators, in 1924, of surrealism. Miró is cordially introduced into the group. Breton defines surrealism in relation to painting as “a total vacancy, an absolute crisis of the model”. The old model, taken from the outside world, is no longer and can no longer be. The one that will succeed it, taken from the inner world, is not yet discovered.

At that time, Miró was going through a personal crisis. He was no longer inspired by external reality. He had to fight against realism, tradition, convention, academicism and cubism, and to find his own way beyond Duchamp and Picabia, to invent a new language. The presence of reliable friends who were committed to the same adventure as him hastened the decisive break that he was in the process of making. Miró signed the Manifesto of Surrealism with them. André Breton stated that Miró was “the most surrealist of us all”.

During this period, the master abandons his detailist style. He worked on the synthesis of the magical elements already present in his earlier works. During the summer of 1924, he refined his schematization of forms, notably with the Catalan Landscape (also titled The Hunter), where his painting becomes more and more geometric. We find there simple forms: the disc, the cone, the square and the triangle. He reduces the object to a line that can be straight, curved or dotted. His “spontaneous lyricism of the living line, with a gradual intrusion into the marvelous”, thus leads to the ideogram in an unrealistic space”, from which Miró approaches the series “that for convenience we will call ”the gray backgrounds””, and of which Pastoral, The Spanish Lamp, Portrait of Miss K, The Family, and Portrait of a Spanish Dancer, are part.

For André Breton, Miró was a choice recruit for the Surrealist movement.

“Miró”s tumultuous entry in 1924 marks an important date in Surrealist art. Miró leapt over the last barriers that could still hinder the total spontaneity of expression. From then on, his production attests to a freedom that has not been surpassed. It can be argued that his influence on Picasso, who joined Surrealism two years later, was largely decisive.”

Miró found inspiration for his future works in the unconscious and in the dreamlike – materials offered by the Surrealist techniques. These tendencies appear in Le Champ Labouré, in particular. This is an allusion to The Farm, in which surrealist elements are added, such as an eye and an ear next to a tree. At the same time, we note the synthetism of the description of the character in the painting Smoking Head.

From June 12 to 27, 1925, an exhibition was held at the Galerie Pierre, where Miró presented 16 paintings and 15 drawings. All the representatives of the surrealist group signed an invitation to the exhibition. Benjamin Péret prefaced his personal exhibition at the Pierre Loeb Gallery in Paris. Other Surrealist painters exhibited there, including Paul Klee, whose paintings impressed Miró. A rare occurrence at the time, the opening took place at midnight, while an orchestra invited by Picasso played a sardana outside. Lines formed at the entrance. Sales and reviews were very favorable to Miró.

In 1926, Joan Miró collaborated with Max Ernst for the play Romeo and Juliet by Serge de Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes. The premiere took place on May 4, 1926 in Monte Carlo, and was performed on May 18 at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in Paris. Rumor has it that the play alters the thoughts of surrealists and communists. A movement developed for the boycott of the “bourgeois” Diaghilev and the “traitors” Ernst and Miró. The first performance is made under the whistles and a rain of red leaves; Louis Aragon and André Breton sign a text of protest against the play. However, the facts stop there and, soon after, the magazine La Révolution surréaliste, edited by Breton, continues to publish the works of the artists. From that year on, Miró was one of the artists permanently on display at the Surrealist Gallery.

One of the most interesting paintings of this period is undoubtedly Harlequin”s Carnival (1925). It is a totally surrealist painting that was a great success at the group exhibition “Surrealist Painting” at the Galerie Pierre (Paris). It was exhibited alongside works by Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst.

This painting is considered to be the high point of Joan Miró”s Surrealist period. Created between 1924 and 1925, the master executed it at a time of economic hardship in which he suffered, among other things, from food shortages and to which the theme of the work is linked:

“I tried to translate the hallucinations that hunger produced. I did not paint what I saw in a dream, as Breton and his followers would say today, but what hunger produced: a form of trance resembling what Orientals feel.”

– Joan Miró

The main characters of the pictorial composition are an automaton playing the guitar and a harlequin with large moustaches. There are also many imaginative details scattered throughout the canvas: a blue-winged bird emerging from an egg, a couple of cats playing with a ball of wool, a flying fish, an insect emerging from a dice, a ladder with a large ear, and, on the upper right, a conical shape, supposedly representing the Eiffel Tower, is seen through a window.

In 1938, Miró wrote a small poetic text about this painting: “The skeins of thread unraveled by the cats dressed as harlequin wind and stabbing my insides…” The painting is currently in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection in Buffalo (New York, USA).

In 1927, Miró made his first illustration for the book Gertrudis, by the poet Josep Vicenç Foix. He moved to a larger studio on Tourlaque Street, where he met some of his friends, such as Max Ernst and Paul Éluard; he met Pierre Bonnard, René Magritte and Jean Arp. He was introduced to the Surrealist “exquisite corpse” game. In 1928, Miró travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands, where he visited the main museums of these countries. He was impressed by Vermeer and the painters of the 18th century. The artist bought colored postcards of these paintings. Upon his return to Paris, Miró worked on a series known as Dutch Interiors. He made numerous drawings and sketches before painting his Dutch Interiors I, inspired by Hendrick Martensz Sorgh”s The Lute Player, followed by Dutch Interiors II, after Jan Havicksz Steen. In this series, Miró abandons the painting of his surrealist dreams. He uses empty spaces with careful graphics and returns to perspective and analyzed forms.

The series of Imaginary Portraits, painted between 1928 and 1929, is very similar to the Dutch Interiors. The artist also took existing paintings as a starting point. His paintings Portrait of Mrs. Mills in 1750, Portrait of a Lady in 1820 and La Fornarina are clearly inspired by the homonymous paintings of George Engleheart, John Constable and Raphael, respectively.

The fourth painting in the series is from an advertisement for a Diesel engine. Miró metamorphosed the advertisement into a female figure called Queen Louise of Prussia. In this case, he uses the canvas, not to reinterpret an existing work, but as the starting point for an analysis of pure forms that ends with the Mirónian characters. The evolution of the process in the course of the paintings can be developed through an analysis of the sketches kept at the Miró Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art. Shortly afterwards, in 1929, Miró introduced the young Salvador Dalí to the Surrealist group.

Miró married Pilar Juncosa (1904-1995) in Palma de Mallorca on October 12, 1929, and moved to Paris to a place large enough to accommodate the couple”s apartment and the painter”s studio. Their daughter was born in 1930. This was the beginning of a period of reflection and questioning. He tried to go beyond what had made the prestige of his paintings: the vivid color and the geometric drawing.

Break with surrealism (1930-1937)

From 1928 to 1930, the dissensions in the Surrealist group became more and more evident, not only from an artistic point of view, but also from a political point of view. Miró gradually distanced himself from the movement. Although he accepted its aesthetic principles, he distanced himself from the demonstrations and events. A meeting of the Surrealist group at the Bar du Château on March 11, 1929, is particularly noteworthy in this regard. While Breton was already a member of the Communist Party at the time, the discussion opened around the fate of Leon Trotsky, but quickly evolved and forced each of the participants to clarify their positions. Some were opposed to a common action based on Breton”s program. Among them were Miró, Michel Leiris, Georges Bataille and André Masson. Between the position of Karl Marx on the one hand, who proposes to “transform the world” by politics and, on the other hand, that of Rimbaud who is to “change life” by poetry, Miró chooses the second. He wants to fight with the painting.

In response to André Breton”s criticisms, who said that after La Fornarina and Portrait d”une dame in 1820, the painter was “a traveler in such a hurry that he doesn”t know where he”s going”, Miró declared that he wanted to “assassinate painting”. The formula was published under the signature of Tériade, who collected it during an interview with Miró, for the newspaper L”Intransigeant of April 7, 1930, in a column violently hostile to surrealism.

Georges Hugnet explains that Miró can only defend himself with his own weapon, painting: “Yes, Miró wanted to assassinate painting, he assassinated it with plastic means, with a plastic art that is one of the most expressive of our time. He murdered it, perhaps, because he did not want to submit to its demands, to its aesthetics, to a program too narrow to give life to his aspirations.

After a solo exhibition in the United States, he unveiled his first collages, prefaced by Aragon, at the Pierre Gallery in Paris. He also initiated himself into lithography.

From then on, Miró drew and worked intensely on a new technique, collage. He did not work with it as the cubists had done, cutting the paper delicately and attaching it to a support. Miró”s forms are without precision, he lets the pieces overflow from the support and joins them together with graphics. This research is not useless and opens the doors of the sculptures on which he works from 1930.

That year, he exhibited his object sculptures at the Pierre Gallery and soon had his first solo exhibition in New York, with paintings from 1926 to 1929. He worked on his first lithographs for the book L”Arbre des voyageurs, by Tristan Tzara. In the summer of 1930, he began a series called Constructions, a logical continuation of the Collages. The compositions are made from elementary forms, circles and squares of wood placed on a support – usually wood – as well as collage of keys that reinforce the lines of the frame. These pieces were first exhibited in Paris.

After seeing this series, the choreographer Leonide Massine asked Miró to create the decoration, clothing and various objects for his ballet Jeux d”enfants. The painter accepted and left for Monte Carlo in early 1932, shortly after the birth of his only daughter, Dolores, on July 17, 1931. The sets were made from volumes and various objects with movement. The premiere took place on April 14, 1932 and was a great success. The play was then performed in Paris, New York, London and Barcelona. In 1931, he unveiled his first sculpture-objects at the Pierre Gallery.

With the surrealist group, he participated from October to November 1933, in the 6th Salon des surindépendants with Giacometti, Dali, Brauner, Ernst, Kandinsky, Arp, Man Ray, Tanguy and Oppenheim. He also held an exhibition in New York at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, with which he remained closely associated. When his contract with his art dealer, Pierre Loeb, came to an end in January 1932, Miró returned to Barcelona with his family, while continuing to make frequent trips to Paris and frequent stays in Mallorca and Mont-roig del Camp. He took part in the Associació d”amics de l”Art Nou (Association of Friends of Art Nouveau), with people such as Joan Prats, Joaquim Gomis and the architect Josep Lluís Sert. The association”s aim was to publicize new international artistic trends and promote Catalan avant-gardism. It held numerous exhibitions in Barcelona, Paris, London, New York and Berlin, which naturally benefited the master. In 1933, his collage paintings were shown in an important exhibition in Paris.

Miró continued his research and created the Eighteen Paintings as a collage, using images taken from magazine advertisements. He later made the following commentary:

“I was used to cutting irregular shapes from newspapers and gluing them to sheets of paper. Day after day I accumulated these shapes. Once made, the collages serve as a starting point for paintings. I did not copy the collages. I simply let them suggest shapes to me.

– Joan Miró

The artist creates new characters that carry a dramatic expression in a perfect symbiosis between signs and faces. The backgrounds are usually dark, painted on thick paper, as can be seen in Man and Woman Facing a Mountain of Excrement (1935), Woman and Dog Facing the Moon (1936). These paintings probably reflect the artist”s feelings shortly before the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. In 1936, the painter was in Mont-roig del Camp when the Civil War broke out. He went to Paris in November for an exhibition. The events in Spain dissuaded him from returning during the period 1936-1940. His wife and daughter joined him in the French capital. He supported Republican Spain without reservation.

In November 1936, Miró went to Paris for an exhibition scheduled there. With the drama of the Spanish Civil War, he felt the need to paint again “from nature”. In his painting Still Life with an Old Shoe, there is a relationship between the shoe and the rest of a meal on a table, the glass, the fork and a piece of bread. The treatment of the colors participates in an effect of the greatest aggressiveness with acid and violent tones. On this canvas, the paint is not flat as on previous works, but in relief. It gives depth to the forms of the objects. This painting is considered a key piece of this realist period. Miró said that he made this composition thinking of Van Gogh”s Peasant”s Shoes, a painter he admired.

The evolution from 1937 to 1958

After creating the poster Help Spain, for the edition of a postage stamp to help the Spanish Republican government, Miró took on the task of painting large-scale works for the pavilion of the Second Spanish Republic at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition, which opened in July. The pavilion also hosted pieces by other artists: Pablo Picasso”s Guernica, Alexander Calder”s Fountain of Mercury, Julio González”s sculpture La Montserrat, Alberto Sánchez”s sculpture The Spanish People Have a Path that Leads to a Star, and others.

Miró presented El Segador, a Catalan peasant with a scythe in his fist, a symbol of a people in struggle, clearly inspired by the Catalan national song Els segadors. The work disappears at the end of the exhibition when the pavilion is dismantled. Only black and white photographs remain. At this time, Balthus painted a portrait of Miró with his daughter Dolores.

From 1939 to 1940, he stayed in Varengeville, where he found Raymond Queneau, Georges Braque and Calder maintained a relationship of friendship and trust, although it is safe to say that the neighborhood at the time and the friendship of all time did not deviate one millimeter from the path of one and the other.

Braque simply invited his Catalan friend to use the “transfer paper” process, a printing technique for lithography. It is a process that Braque himself used, which consists of drawing with a lithographic pencil on a prepared paper, which allows the transfer by transfer, on the stone or zinc sheet.

When Nazi Germany invaded France, Miró returned to Spain and settled there, first in Mont-roig, then in Palma de Mallorca and finally in Barcelona, from 1942 to 1944. In 1941, his first retrospective exhibition was held in New York at the Museum of Modern Art.

It was in Mallorca, from 1942 onwards, that Miró built his definitive style through successive evolutions. His new contact with Spain, and particularly with Majorca, was undoubtedly decisive. There, he reconnected with a culture whose siurells (small naive sculptures from Mallorca) he admired and was amazed by the Gothic audacity of Gaudí, who had restored the fortified cathedral in 1902. He lives with pleasure in deep solitude, often going to the cathedral to listen to music. He isolates himself, reads a lot, meditates.

In 1943, he returned to Barcelona with his family; his abundant production was limited to works on paper, research without preconceived ideas, using all techniques. It was a real “laboratory” in which the artist frantically researched a single theme, “The Woman Bird Star”, which was the title of many of his works. At that time, he created figures, signs and associations using pastel, pencil, Indian ink and watercolor, to create human or animal figures whose simplified forms he quickly found.

At the end of 1943, the gallery owner Joan Prats commissioned him to produce a series of 50 lithographs under the title Barcelona. “The black and white lithography provided him with the outlet he needed to express violent emotions. The Barcelona series reveals a rage similar to that provoked by the deterioration of the international situation,” explains Penrose. This release prompted him to return to painting on canvas after a four-year hiatus. The canvases are disconcerting in their simplicity, spontaneity and casualness. In the same spirit, Miró painted on irregular pieces of canvas, “as if the absence of an easel freed him from a constraint. He thus invented a new language that led, in 1945, to the series of large canvases among the best known and most often reproduced, almost all of them on a light background (Woman in the Night, Sunrise) with the exception of two black backgrounds: Woman Listening to Music and Dancer Hearing the Organ Play in a Gothic Cathedral (1945). The artist is then in search of a “motionless movement”:

“These forms are both still and moving what I am looking for is still movement, something that is the equivalent of the eloquence of silence.”

– Joan Miró

The concern for representation and logical meaning is foreign to Miró. This is how he explains The Running of the Bulls: the bullfight is only a pretext for painting, and the painting is more illustrative than truly revealing. The bull, very freely interpreted, occupies the whole canvas, which Michel Leiris will reproach him for. In 1946, Jean Cassou, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, bought this painting from him at a time when no French museum had any major work by the artist.

From 1945, a year after the death of his mother, Miró developed three new approaches to his art: engraving, ceramics, modeling and sculpture. That year he began a collaboration with his teenage friend, Josep Llorens i Artigas, for the production of ceramics. He carried out research into the composition of pastes, earths, glazes and colors. The forms of popular ceramics are a source of inspiration for him. There is little difference between these early ceramics and the paintings and lithographs of the same period.

In 1946, he worked on sculptures to be cast in bronze. Some of them were to be painted in bright colors. In this field, Miró is interested in the research of volumes and spaces. He also sought to incorporate everyday objects, or simply found objects: stones, roots, cutlery, tricorns, keys. He melts these compositions using the process of lost wax, so that the meaning of the identifiable objects is lost through the association with the other elements.

In 1947, the artist went to New York for eight months where he worked for a while at Atelier 17, directed by Stanley William Hayter. During these few months in New York, he worked on engraving and lithography techniques. He also learns chalcography and produces the plates for Le Désespéranto, one of the three volumes of the work L”Antitête, by Tristan Tzara. The following year, he collaborated on a new book by the same author, Parler seul, and produced 72 color lithographs.

From these works, Miró participates with some of his poet friends in several publications. This is particularly the case for the works of Breton Anthology of Black Humor (for René Char, Feast of Trees and Hunter and the health of the snake, for Michel Leiris, Bagatelles vegetales (and for Paul Éluard, À toute épreuve, which contains 80 engravings on boxwood. The realization of these engravings lasts from 1947 to 1958.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the atmosphere in Paris was tense. Miró stayed in Varengeville-sur-Mer, on the Normandy coast, in a villa donated by his friend, the architect Paul Nelson. The village, close to nature, reminded him of the landscapes of Majorca and Mont-roig. He decided to settle there and bought a house.

From 1939 to 1941, Miró lived in Varengeville-sur-Mer. The village sky inspired him, and he began to paint a series of 23 small canvases, whose generic title is Constellations. They are made on a 38 × 46 cm paper support, which the artist soaks in petrol and rubs until he gets a rough texture. He then adds the color while maintaining a certain transparency to obtain the desired final appearance. On this background color, Miró draws with very pure colors to create the contrast. The iconography of the Constellations aims to represent the cosmic order: the stars refer to the celestial world, the figures symbolize the earth and the birds are the union of the two. These paintings perfectly integrate the motifs and the background.

Miró and his wife returned to Barcelona in 1942, shortly before the death of his mother in 1944. At that time, they moved to Mallorca, where, according to Miró, he was “only Pilar”s husband”. In 1947 he went to the United States for the first time. There he painted his first mural, which would be followed by others throughout his career. That same year, the Maeght Gallery organized important exhibitions of his work in Paris, and in 1954 he received the Prize for Engraving at the Venice Biennale, along with Max Ernst and Jean Arp.

Later, in 1958, Miró published a book also called Constellations. This limited edition contains the reproduction of two poems: Vingt-deux eaux, by Miró and Vingt-deux proses parallèles, by André Breton.

From 1960 onwards, the artist entered a new stage in his artistic life which reflected his ease in graphic design. He drew with a spontaneity close to a childlike style. The thick lines are made with black color, and his canvases are full of paintings and sketches that always recall the same themes: the earth, the sky, birds and women. He generally uses primary colors. That same year, the Guggenheim Foundation in New York awarded him its Grand Prize.

From 1955 to 1959, Miró devoted himself entirely to ceramics, but in 1960 he began to paint again. The series on a white background and the triptych Blue I, then Blue II and Blue III date from 1961. These canvases, almost entirely monochrome blue, are reminiscent of Yves Klein”s paintings in some respects. After creating a blue background, Miró controls the color space with minimalist signs: lines, dots and brushstrokes of color, applied with the caution of “the gesture of a Japanese archer,” in the words of the artist.These paintings resemble those of 1925, when he painted the series of monochrome Dancer I and Dancer II. He summarizes his attitude with the following sentence:

“It is important for me to reach a maximum of intensity with a minimum of means. Hence the growing importance of the void in my paintings.”

– Joan Miró

During his stay in New York, he painted a 3 × 10 meter wall for the restaurant of the Cincinnati Terrace Hilton Hotel and illustrated the book L”Antitête by Tristan Tzara. Later, back in Barcelona, he received help from Josep Llorens” son, Joan Gardy Artigas. Miró spent his summers in the Llorens family”s studio in Gallifa. The two companions carried out all kinds of firing and glaze tests. The result was a collection of 232 works, which were exhibited in June 1956 at the Maeght Gallery in Paris and later at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York.

In 1956 Miró moved to Palma de Mallorca, where he had a large studio designed by his friend Josep Lluís Sert. It was at this time that he was commissioned to create two ceramic walls for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. These measured 3 × 15 m and 3 × 7.5 m respectively, and were inaugurated in 1958. Although Miró had already worked with large formats, he had never done so using ceramics. Together with the ceramist Josep Llorens, he developed firing techniques to the maximum in order to create a background whose colors and textures resembled his paintings of the same period. The composition must have the sun and the moon as its theme. In Miró”s words:

“The idea of a large, intense red disk is imposed on the larger wall. Its replica on the smaller wall would be a quarter blue crescent, imposed by the smaller, more intimate space for which it is intended. These two forms, which I wanted to be very colorful, had to be reinforced by a work in relief. Certain elements of the construction, like the shape of the windows, inspired me to create compositions in scales and the shapes of the characters. I sought a brutal expression on the large wall, a poetic suggestion on the small one.”

– Joan Miró

Majorca and the great workshop (1956-1966)

For five years, the artist devoted himself mainly to ceramics, engraving and lithography. With the exception of a dozen small paintings on cardboard, Miró did not produce any paintings. His work was disrupted by his move to Palma de Mallorca. This was a change he had been hoping for, and which was carried out with the help of the architect Josep Lluís Sert, who designed a large studio for him at the foot of Miró”s residence. The painter was both satisfied and disoriented by the size of the building, and he set about enlivening and populating this large empty space. He felt compelled to take his painting in a new direction. He had to rediscover the “surge of iconoclastic fury of his youth”.

His second stay in the United States was decisive. The young American painters opened the way for him and liberated him by showing him how far one could go. The abundant production of the late 1950s and 1960s shows Miró”s affinity with the new generation, although he was above all an inspirer: “Miró was always an initiator, more than anyone else. Many of the painters of the new generation readily acknowledged their debts to him, including Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock.”

Conversely, the Catalan master did not find it beneath him to go and meet them and even borrow some of their techniques, such as dripping or projections. From this period come the oil on canvas Woman and Bird (1959, in continuity of the series Woman, Bird, Star), Woman and Bird (1960, paintings VIII to X on canvas bags). The Red Disc (oil on canvas, exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art, USA), Seated Woman (1960, paintings IV and V) exhibited at the Queen Sophia Museum in Madrid.

After a period of abundant production, Miró empties his mind, declares the void and embarks on the execution of several triptychs including Blue I, Blue II and Blue III.

The year 1961 marks a particular stage in the painter”s production, with the realization of triptychs, one of the most famous of which is Bleu, preserved in its entirety at the Centre national d”art et de culture Georges-Pompidou since 1993. Bleu I was acquired on this date after a public subscription.

Other triptychs will follow from 1963. This is particularly true of the Paintings for a Temple, in green, red and orange, and Paintings on a White Background for a Condemned Man”s Cell (1968), oil on canvas, of the same dimensions as the Blue paintings kept at the Miró Foundation.

Finally, in 1974 came The Hope of the Condemned Man (Miró Foundation). This last triptych was completed in a painful political context, at the time of the death by garrotte of the young Salvador Puig i Antich, whom Miró described as a Catalan nationalist, in an interview with Santiago Amón for El País Semanal (Madrid, 18 June 1978). “The agonizing episode of Spanish history, the horror felt by an entire people at the death by garrote of a young Catalan anarchist, in the agony of Francoism, is the origin of the last triptych now in the Miró Foundation in Barcelona. The word “Hope” being conceived as a form of derision. It is certain, as Jean-Louis Prat points out, that Miró went through this period with anger: “Forty years after his first anger at the stupidity that sometimes eats away at the world, the Catalan is still capable of shouting his disgust through his painting. And to expose it in Barcelona.

In the early 1960s, Miró was actively involved in the great project of Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, who had established their foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The couple, inspired by a visit to the painter”s studio in Cala Major, called on the same architect – Josep Lluís Sert – to construct the building and design the gardens. A special space was reserved for Miró. After a long meditation, he devoted himself to his Labyrinth. He collaborated with Josep and Joan Artigas on the ceramics, and with Sert on the design of the whole. The monumental works of the labyrinth were created especially for the foundation. Miró first designed models along the path traced by Josep Lluís Sert, which were then made in cement, marble, iron, bronze and ceramic. Of these sculptures, The Fork and The Disc are among the most important. The former was made in 1963 (bronze, 507 × 455 × 9 cm), and the latter in 1973 (ceramic, 310 cm in diameter).

The four Catalans “engaged in an enthusiastic consultation for the installation of 13 works for the Labyrinth, some of which would not be in place until several months, or even years, after the inauguration of the place on July 28, 1964. In the years following the beginning of the Labyrinth, Miró delivered an impressive quantity of painted and sculpted works for the Maeght Foundation. Most of the sculptures are bronzes. In 1963, he created Femme-insecte, Maquette de l”Arc for the Maeght Foundation. In 1967, he designed Woman, Head and Bird, Character and Bird, then in the 1970s, Monument (1970), Constellation and Character (1971). In 1973, he created Grand personnage. The foundation also receives ceramics: Woman and Bird (1967), Totemic Figure (1968), Mural Ceramic (1968), as well as marbles, such as the Solar Bird and Lunar Bird, sculpted in 1968.

The Maeght Foundation owns 275 works by Miró, including 8 large paintings, 160 sculptures, 73 watercolors, gouaches, and drawings on paper, a monumental tapestry, an important stained glass window integrated into the architecture, 28 ceramics, as well as monumental works created especially for the maze garden. All these creations were donated to the foundation by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, as well as Joan Miró, and subsequently, the descendants of the Maeght and Miró families, as well as the Sucessió Miró. “It is thanks to their unparalleled generosity that a fabulous patrimony has been built up, unique in France, a privileged place to better share the dreams of Joan Miró.”

Last years (1967-1983)

In 1967, Miró produced La Montre du temps, a work created from a layer of cardboard and a spoon, melted into a bronze and joined together to form a sculpted object that measures the intensity of the wind.

Following the first major exhibition of the master”s work in Barcelona in 1968, several art personalities supported the creation of a reference center for Miró”s work in the city. In accordance with the artist”s wishes, the new institution should promote the dissemination of all facets of contemporary art. At a time when Franco”s regime was closing down the city”s artistic and cultural panorama, the Miró Foundation brings a new vision. The building was built according to a concept far removed from the generally accepted notions of museums at the time, and sought to promote contemporary art rather than dedicate itself to its conservation. The opening took place on June 10, 1975. The buildings were designed by Josep Lluís Sert, a disciple of Le Corbusier and a friend and accomplice of the great contemporary artists with whom he had already collaborated (Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso). The foundation”s initial 5,000-piece collection comes from Miró and his family.

“The painter did not want to remain aloof from the construction of his foundation, nor did he want to limit himself to donations. He wanted to participate concretely, through his work as a painter, in the collective work of the architects, masons, and gardeners. To do this, he chose the most secluded place: the ceiling of the auditorium, where his painting could give a living root to the edifice.” This large painting of 4.70 × 6 m, executed on chipboard, will be completed and signed on May 11, 1975.

From June 9 to September 27, 1969, Miró exhibited his engravings in Geneva in “Œuvres gravées et lithographiées” at the Gérald Cramer Gallery. That same year, a major retrospective of his graphic works was held at the Norton Simon Museum (California).

In collaboration with Josep Llorens, he built the Goddess of the Sea, a large ceramic sculpture that they immersed in Juan-les-Pins. In 1972, Miró exhibited his sculptures at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1965, he produced a large number of sculptures for the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The most notable works are Oiseau de lune, Lézard, Déesse, Fourchette and Femme aux cheveux emmêlés.

In 1974, the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris organized a major retrospective exhibition to mark his 80th birthday, while the following year the Miró Foundation was built by Luis Sert in Montjuïc, in the hills above Barcelona. It houses an important collection of his works.

In 1973, the pianist Georges Cziffra bought the ruins of the collegiate church of Saint-Frambourg in Senlis to house his foundation, which was created the following year. New stained glass windows were installed in 1977; eight of them were entrusted by the pianist to his friend Joan Miró. The painter designed them and their realization was entrusted to the master glassmaker of Reims, Charles Marcq. The painter comments on this occasion:

“I had thought about doing stained glass all my life, but the opportunity had never presented itself. I became passionate about it. This discipline that the chapel dictated to me led me to have a great deal of freedom, pushed me to do something very free by approaching this virginity. Stars are very often found in my work because I often walk in the middle of the night, I dream of starry skies and constellations, it impresses me and this scale of escape that is very often highlighted in my work represents a flight towards the infinite, towards the sky by leaving the earth.”

In 1980, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit of Fine Arts by the Ministry of Culture.

In April 1981, Miró inaugurated a monumental sculpture of 12 meters in Chicago, known as Miss Chicago; on November 6, two other bronzes were installed in the city of Palma de Mallorca. The following year, the city of Houston unveiled Personage and Bird.

In 1983, in collaboration with Joan Gardy Artigas, the artist created Woman and Bird, his last sculpture, which was destined for the city of Barcelona. It is made of concrete and covered with ceramic. Miró”s failing health prevented him from attending the inauguration ceremony. Located in Barcelona”s Parc Joan-Miró near an artificial pond, the 22-meter-high work represents an oblong shape, topped by a hollowed-out cylinder and a half moon. The exterior is covered with ceramics in the artist”s most classic tones: red, yellow, green and blue. The ceramics form mosaics.

Joan Miró died in Palma de Mallorca on December 25, 1983, at the age of 90, and was buried in the Montjuïc cemetery in Barcelona.

In the same year, Nuremberg organized the first posthumous exhibition of Miró”s work, and in 1990, the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul de Vence also held a retrospective exhibition entitled “Miró”. Finally, in 1993, the Miró Foundation in Barcelona did the same for the centenary of his birth.

In 2018, the Grand Palais in Paris is organizing a retrospective featuring 150 works, tracing the artist”s evolution over 70 years of creation.

In paint

Miró”s first paintings, from 1915, are marked by various influences, first of all those of Van Gogh, Matisse and the Fauvists, then of Gauguin and the Expressionists. Cézanne also brought him the construction of cubist volumes. A first period, called “Catalan Fauvism”, began in 1918 with his first exhibition, and continued until 1919 with the painting Nude with a Mirror. This period is marked by the imprint of Cubism. In 1920, the realist period, known as the “detailist” or “precisionist” period, began: the painter”s naïve eye focused on representing the smallest details, in the manner of the Italian primitives. The painting, The Landscape of Mont-roig (1919), is characteristic of this period. The Cubist influence is still strong and can be seen in the use of angles, the composition of cut-out planes and also in the use of bright colors (Self-portrait, 1919, The Table (Still Life with Rabbit), 1920).

In 1922, the painting The Farm marks the end of this period and the advent of a new technique marked by surrealist thought. The works The Hunter (1923) and Harlequin”s Carnival (1924-1925) are the most significant expressions. The pictorial space is flat, it no longer represents a third dimension. Objects became symbolic signs and Miró reintroduced bright color into his paintings (The Birth of the World, 1925, Imaginary Landscapes, 1926, Dog Barking at the Moon, 1926). The work on space and signs leads to the creation of a true “Miróworld”, according to Patrick Waldberg.

In 1933, the artist created his paintings from collages, a process already used by another surrealist, Max Ernst. However, Miró experimented with a wide range of techniques to make his paintings: pastel, painting on sandpaper, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, painting on wood and copper, among others. The series Wild Paintings, from 1935 and 1936, has as its theme the Spanish War, and uses multiple painting techniques. The Constellations series, “slow paintings” (1939-1941) and “spontaneous paintings” (including Composition with ropes, 1950), also demonstrate Miró”s versatility. Other experiments, more abstract, use the monochrome; this is the case of the triptych Hope of the condemned to death (1961-1962), which consists only of a black arabesque on a white background.

Finally, the artist created numerous murals in the United States (for the Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, in 1947, for Harvard University in 1950) and in Paris (series Bleus I, II and III of 1961 and Peintures murales I, II and III of 1962).

In sculpture

Miró was introduced to sculpture by his teacher, Gali. From the beginning, Miró was also a student of the ceramist Artigas, his friend, with whom he produced impressive ceramic works. His first attempts, in the summer of 1932, date from his surrealist period and are entitled “poetic objects”. It was with Artigas, from 1944, that Miró achieved mastery of this art. Seeking the brilliance of colors, following the Chinese technique of “grand feu”, he moved from ceramics to the creation of fused bronzes, between 1944 and 1950. The artist began to collect all sorts of diverse objects and use them to create heterogeneous sculptures.

The “Mirónian calligraphy

Miró”s first source of inspiration are the two infinities, from the infinitely small of the twigs of the “Mirónian calligraphy” to the infinitely large of the empty spaces of the constellations. This calligraphy shapes hieroglyphs through a very diverse schematic geometry. This one is indeed formed of curved points, straight lines, oblong or massive volumes, circles, squares, etc.. Once he had assimilated the main artistic currents of his time, between 1916 and 1918, Miró gradually put in place the elements that form this “detailist” language, in which he gives the same importance to small and large elements. He explained that “a blade of grass is as graceful as a tree or a mountain”.

After detailing his canvases down to the roots of plants, Miró set out to represent the great spaces. If, in the 1920s, his work is reminiscent of the sea, his paintings of the 1970s evoke the sky, through an exacerbated stellar cartography. In The Running of the Bulls, this detailism uses filigree drawing to define large silhouettes. This true poetic language of Miró reflects the evolution of his relationship to the world:

“I am overwhelmed when I see the crescent moon or the sun in an immense sky. There are, moreover, in my paintings, very small forms in large empty spaces.”

– Joan Miró

The influence of Eastern and Far Eastern calligraphy is evident in Miró”s work, particularly in his Self-Portrait (1937-1938). For him, “the plastic must realize a poetry”, explains Jean-Pierre Mourey. Walter Erben underlines the relationship between the artist”s symbols and Chinese or Japanese ideograms: “A friend of Miró who knew Japanese characters well, managed to ”read” in a series of signs invented by the painter, the very meaning he had attached to them.” Miró”s signature is in itself an ideogram that constitutes a painting within a painting. It happens that the painter, planning to make a fresco, begins by affixing his signature. Then he spreads it over most of the canvas, with rigorously spaced letters, and spaces shaded with color. Miró often used his signature on posters, book covers and illustrations.


Women, male-female relationships and eroticism are a major source of inspiration for the master. Their representations are abundant in Miró”s work, both in his paintings and sculptures. However, he does not focus on the simple canonical description of bodies but tries to represent them from the inside. In 1923, The Farm Girl followed The Farmhouse, painted a year earlier. The following year, he suggested femininity through the gracefulness of the lines in The Bather, while in The Body of my Brunette, the canvas itself evokes the woman he loved. In 1928, with Portrait of a Dancer, the painter ironizes the grace of dancers. The motif of the woman and the bird is common in Miró”s work. In Catalan, bird (ocell), is also the nickname of the penis, and is associated with many of his works. This motif appears as early as 1945, and also in his sculpture, in his first terracottas of mythical inspiration.

After moving to Paris, and despite the difficulties he encountered, Miró wrote to his friend Ricart in June 1920: “Definitely never again Barcelona! Paris and the countryside, and that until death! In Catalonia, no painter has ever reached fullness! Sunyer, if he does not decide to make long stays in Paris, will fall asleep forever. It has been said that the carob trees of our country have performed the miracle of waking him up, but these are the words of intellectuals from the Lliga. We must become an international Catalan.”

However, it was in Mallorca and then in Barcelona that he found inspiration and that his style evolved decisively between 1942 and 1946, with a return to his roots and to Spanish culture.

Catalonia, and in particular his parents” farmhouse in Mont-roig del Camp, were very present in Miró”s work until 1923. He stayed in this village during his youth and returned there for half the year in 1922 and 1923. He drew his inspiration, sensations and memories, his relationship to life and death from there. The vegetation, the arid climate, the starry skies, as well as the characters of the countryside, are found in his creations.

The Farmhouse and The Catalan are undoubtedly the most important paintings in this aspect of Mirón”s work. The figure in The Toreador is, in this respect, one of the most enigmatic. The painting extends the series on The Catalan Peasant (1925-1927) to the edge of abstraction, with an eminently Spanish figure, where the red in front of the muleta evokes the barretina of the Catalan peasant more than the blood of the bull.

The Running of the Bulls, inspired by his return to Barcelona in 1943, shows the continuity of the spontaneous creation of Woman, Bird, Star. In his notes, he talks about a project for a series on the theme of the running of the bulls to: “look for poetic symbols, that the banderillero be like an insect, the white handkerchiefs like pigeons” wings, the fans that unfold, small suns.” Not once does he refer to the bull, which is the central figure of the painting, and which he has disproportionately enlarged. Walter Eben suggests an explanation: Miró only liked the colorful sensations of the bullring, which provided him with a whole series of strongly evocative harmonies and tones. He attended the bullfight as a popular festival tinged with eroticism, but he did not measure the stakes. He does not limit himself to the tragic aspect of the race, he introduces numerous comic evocations.

The discrete

In his Surrealist period, Miró”s most representative work is Le Carnaval d”Arlequin (1924-1925), which was exhibited at the Galerie Pierre, along with two other works: Le Sourire de ma blonde and Le Corps de ma brune. However, if works of the artist were reproduced in the Surrealist Revolution, if Breton declared him “the most surrealist of us” and if Miró participated in a collective exhibition of the group, his adhesion to the movement is not without reticence.

“In the midst of the avant-garde revolution, Miró continued to pay tribute to his origins (Head of a Catalan peasant) from which he never cut himself off, returning regularly to Spain.”

Although he is fully integrated into the group with which he has excellent relations, his membership is rather “distracted”:

“Even though he attended the meetings of the Cyrano café and Breton considered him ”the most surrealist of us”, he did not follow any of the movement”s watchwords and preferred to refer to Klee, whom his friends Arp and Calder had introduced him to.”

At the Cyrano café, he remained silent. His silences are renowned and André Masson will say that he remained intact. Miró is especially the companion of road of the movement and he leads with discretion his own poetic and pictorial experiment, “which will carry it to the extreme of the possible of the painting and in the heart of this true surreality of which the surrealists hardly recognized that the margins”.

Within the group of the surrealists, Miró is an artist with share. His friend, Michel Leiris, explains that he is often mocked for his bourgeois correctness, his refusal to multiply female adventures and for his emphasis on the native and rural country against the Parisian center.

The naive

What Breton calls a “certain arrest of the personality at the childish stage” is, in reality, a bitter conquest of the powers lost since childhood. Miró”s refusal to intellectualize his problems, his way of painting pictures instead of talking about painting, make him suspicious in the eyes of the “vigilant guardians of the master Breton”s thought” (José Pierre among others) and of the surrealist orthodoxy. One has for him the respect that one has for the child prodigies, with a little condescending contempt for his facility, his profusion and the natural richness of his gifts.

First young prodigy of the movement, he is put aside by Breton in 1928. The latter had already pushed him aside: Breton”s famous quote, making Miró “the most surrealist of us”, contains in its full version condescension, contempt and not praise as the truncated version seems to be. José Pierre, master of surrealist orthodoxy, reproaches Jacques Dupin for being an adversary of Breton because he published Breton”s complete quote. In 1993, Dupin republished the quote in its entirety:

“For a thousand problems that do not preoccupy him to any degree, although they are those with which the human mind is filled, there is perhaps in Joan Miró only one desire: that of abandoning himself to paint, and only to paint (which for him is to restrict himself to the only field in which we are sure he has the means), to that pure automatism to which I, for my part, have never stopped appealing, but of which I fear that Miró by himself has very summarily verified the value, the profound reason. It is perhaps, it is true, by this that he can pass for the most “surrealist” of us all. But as we are far from this chemistry of the intelligence of which one spoke.

Breton”s sidelining of Miró became more radical in 1941 when the painter refused to accept any aesthetic dogma. Breton corrects his words in 1952, during the exhibition of Constellations, but he reoffends shortly after the same year by publishing Letter to a little girl from America, where he says: “Some modern artists have done everything to reconnect with the world of childhood, I think in particular Klee, Miró who, in schools, can not be too in favor.”

The free master

Miró wrote surrealist poems. His extensive correspondence, interviews with art critics and statements in art magazines have been collected by Margit Rowell in a single volume, Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, which includes the 1948 interview with James Johnson Sweeney and an unpublished interview with Margit Rowell. He also illustrated collections of poems or prose of other representatives of the surrealist movement, or “fellow travelers” of the surrealists: Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, René Char, Jacques Dupin, Robert Desnos.

The spontaneity of the painter does not fit well with the automatism advocated by surrealism. His paintings, whether they were made during the 1920s – during his so-called surrealist period – or later, are of the most absolute and personal spontaneity. It is the fulfillment of the dream on the canvas. Miró only briefly touched on Surrealism, he is not a true representative of it.

“I begin my paintings under the effect of a shock that I feel and that makes me escape from reality. The cause of this shock can be a small thread that detaches itself from the canvas, a drop of water that falls, this print that my finger leaves on the surface of the table. In any case, I need a starting point, even if it is only a speck of dust or a flash of light. I work like a gardener or a winegrower.

Joan Miró received a Catholic education. Roberta Bogni”s thesis indicates that he was rather religious and that he gave his daughter a Catholic education. Bogni notes, in addition to his attendance at the Cercle Artístic Sant Lluc, directed by Bishop Josep Torras i Bages, his interest in the spiritual, his impregnation of Catholic religious dogmas in his work and a certain mysticism that inspires his symbolism. Miro was inspired in particular by the work of the medieval Majorcan apologist Ramon Llull, whom he knew in depth. However, in 1978, the Bishopric refused to allow him to intervene in a work for the cathedral of Palma, arguing his atheism. The writer Jacques Dupin, however, indicates that it is likely that he believed in the existence of a superior being.

The surname “Miró” is associated in Mallorca with Jewish ancestry, which earned the artist the destruction of his paintings by the short-lived anti-Jewish Youth in 1930 and posters for his exhibitions to be tagged “Chueto” in Palma.

Main paintings


Main illustrations

In 1974, the reinterpretation of the postal bird, logotype of the French post office, became the first artistic work specially created to be reproduced on a stamp of the “artistic series”, in France and in Barcelona.

The artist”s work became very popular after a series of articles and reviews. Many prints of his works are made on everyday objects: clothes, dishes, glasses, etc. There is also a Miró perfume, where the bottle and packaging are souvenirs of the artist.

The Spanish bank La Caixa has been using a work by Miró as its logo since the 1980s: a navy blue star to which he gives a “vivid image of a starfish”, as well as a red dot and a yellow dot, the colors of which symbolize the flags of Spain and the Balearic Islands.

The official poster of the 1982 Football World Cup is also a work by Miró. After some modifications by the artist, it was taken over by the Spanish Tourist Office. It is a sun, a star and the text España, in red, black and yellow.

A string quartet from Austin, Texas, was founded in 1995 as the Miró Quartet.

Google dedicates a doodle to the artist, on April 20, 2006, for the 113th anniversary of Miró”s birth.

In the episode Death had white teeth of the series Hercule Poirot, the famous detective accompanied by Captain Hasting, as part of their investigation, go to a contemporary painting vernissage where they contemplate a painting by Miró entitled “Man throwing a stone at a bird” which will leave the Captain wondering which is the man as well as the bird and even the stone.

The paintings of the artist Joan Miró are very successful on the art market and sell for very high prices. The oil on canvas Caress of the Stars sold for $17,065,000 on May 6, 2008 at Christie”s in New York, or 11,039,348 euros. Miró”s paintings are also among the most falsified in the world. The great popularity of the paintings and the high value of the works encourage the development of forgeries. Among the latest paintings confiscated by the police during Operation Artist, we find mainly pieces by Miró, Picasso, Tàpies and Chillida.

External links


  1. Joan Miró
  2. Joan Miró