Joan Miro Biography

The painter, Joan Miró, was born in Barcelona in 1893 and died in Mallorca in 1983. He produced works in a variety of different styles and using a wide range of materials but the majority of them had a surrealist flavour. This is how he is best remembered although he preferred to think of his works as individualistic and not necessarily falling into any particular category.

He showed an early passion for art and attended drawing classes while he was at primary school. In 1907 he enrolled at the School of Industrial and Fine Arts (the Llotja) in Barcelona and studied there until 1910. In 1912 Miró was recovering from a bout of Typhoid and decided that he wanted to follow his love of painting and not a career in accounting that he had been attempting to pursue. He spent 3 years at a school of art run by Francesc Galí, and studied life art at the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. His first one man exhibition was in 1918 and his works showed a number of influences. These included the vibrant colours of Fauvism, Cubist shapes, Catalan art and Roman frescos.

Miró's Woman, Bird, Star (Homage to Pablo Picasso) - Mujer, Pájaro y Estrella (Homenaje a Picasso)
Miró’s Woman, Bird, Star (Homage to Pablo Picasso)

In 1920 he visited Paris for the first time, and met Picasso. This is probably one of the main reasons why his style changed after this point and Miró began to focus on more surreal paintings. He decided to move to Paris and held his first solo exhibition there in 1921. He divided his time between Spain and France and met, and worked alongside, many of the surrealist artists and poets of the time. Ernest Hemingway was among Miró’s customers during this time. He bought a painting that mixed cubism with surrealism, ‘The Farm’. In 1926 Miró and his friend, Max Ernst, were commissioned to design the sets and costumes for the ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’, performed in Paris by the Ballets Russes.

Around this time Miró also started to become interested in object collages. The first he produced was the ‘Spanish Dancer’. He moved away from painting for a while and concentrated on sculptures. However, he also experimented with a wide variety of other artistic forms including lithography, engraving, and painting over copper. He married in 1929, and his daughter was born the following year. Miró then decided to spend more time in Spain until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced him to move his family back to Paris in 1936. They remained there until 1940 when they moved back to Spain. Miró continued to learn about, and experiment with, various materials and types of art, but it was his ceramic work that he concentrated on.

Miró's The Farm - La Masia
Miró’s The Farm

In the late 1950s Miró began to produce commissioned works particularly murals and large outdoor sculptures for locations around the world. In 1972 a building to house the Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d’Estudis d’Art Contemporani (The Joan Miró Foundation, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art) was commissioned. It opened to the public in 1975 and it houses the largest collection of Miró’s works. This is by far the biggest collection in the world not surprisingly because Miró himself donated the vast majority of pieces before he died. It includes 240 paintings, 175 sculptures, 9 textiles, 4 ceramics, the almost complete graphic works, and around 8,000 drawings. Other examples of Miró’s work can be found at museums and locations around the world.

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