Barcelona, 1893 – Palma, 1983

Born (Barcelona, Spain) in 1893, Joan Miró Ferra attended business school from 1907 to 1910 and at the same time studied at La Lonja School of Fine Arts. From 1912 to 1915 he went to the Academy Gali and thereafter to the Sant-Lluc Circle of the Academy of Art, leaving in 1918. In 1912 not only did Joan Miró meet the famous ceramicist Artigas and the artist Ricard but while visiting an exhibition in Barcelona he discovered Cubism. At this early stage of his career his work was profoundly influenced by the ‘Catalan Fauvism’. His first exhibition was held in 1918 at the Delman Gallery, and a year later he moved to Paris.

He met Picasso in 1920 and took part in the first Dada exhibition held in the Salle Gaveau. At the end of the First World War Miro was working mainly on the creation of realist landscapes but at the beginning of the 1920s his work went through a period of free expression finally becoming surrealist. In 1921 he rented the former studio of the Catalan sculptor Gargallo and opened his first Parisian exhibition. This was a period of poverty for Miro; in 1924 he joined the Surrealist group and took part, more than twenty years later in the Paris International Surrealist Exhibition of 1974. His work became full of sign-like forms, in effect his personal code, and between 1925 and 1927 his art grew increasingly more dream-like as if the painting had escaped earthly gravitation and was being attracted to the stars. He also produced a comprehensive series of painting-poems. From 1926 to 1927 he worked on a series of imaginary landscapes in which nature erupts into fantasy and in 1926 he collaborated with Max Ernst in the production of the scenery for Romeo and Juliet for the Diaghilev Russian ballets.By the end of the 1920s Miro had produced a series of works inspired by the old masters and he then went on to create imaginary portraits; using various materials (bark, tow, partly assembled objects, etc) he created a series of collage-painting that he himself classified as ‘anti-paintings’.

In 1932 he exhibited in both Paris and New York and the following year he met Kandinsky. During the Spanish Civil War Miró painted what he called his ‘savage paintings’ and in 1937 he created a mural painting for the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. At the beginning of the Second World War the artist took refuge in Spain but left there for Paris early in 1942. During the war he continued his quest for poetic exhibitionism and produced ‘The Constellations’.

He used aggressive techniques, (paint scrubbing and scraping for example) and at the same time his writing developed starry spheres, twirls, broken lines and so forth. The female figure, the bird and the star all became recurrent features of his work. In 1944 Miro took to sculpture and created mainly small bronze figures, and at the same time he began an interest in ceramics. His graphic work, including the consecutive fusion of his art to both texts and poems became of prime importance. For example, in 1947 he created the illustrations for “A Toute Epreuve” by Paul Eluard and for “Antitête” by Tristan Tzara.

In the 1960s his paintings had become increasingly meditative and were often painted on sackcloth. By the 1970s he painted on burnt canvas. Among other undertakings Miró produced monumental works, mosaics and sculptured gardens in Paris , Spain and the USA. He also created a series of stained glass windows for the Saint Frambourg Chapel in Senlis. The Foundation Miró, to which Miró had given some 5000 drawings, was opened in 1976.
Joan Miró died in Palma (capital of Majorca) in 1983. The Museum, ‘Miró de Palma de Majorque’, was opened in the artist’s studio ten years after his death.


Joan MIRÓ, Louisiana, 1974