Joan Mirˇ (April 20,
1893 ľ December 25, 1983), Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramist, was
born in Barcelona, Spain. Mirˇ is famous for his paintings Catalan
Landscape, Maternity, Harlequin's Carnival and Motherhood.
The son of a goldsmith and clockmaker, he discovered his drawing talent
at an early age. At 14, he enrolled in a business college at the same
time pursued courses at the La Lonja's Escuela Superior de Artes
Industriales y Bellas Artes (Lonja School of Fine Arts) in Barcelona.
Mirˇ's Early Years
Mirˇ was employed as a bookkeeper in 1910, but suffered from a nervous
breakdown. He spent time convalescing at his parents' farm near Montroig
in Catalonia, a place where he got one of his greatest sources of
inspiration. Two years later, he decided to devote fulltime to painting
and attended the Francisco Gali Academy in Barcelona.
The Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona held an exhibition of Impressionists,
Fauvists and Cubists, followed by Vollard's vast exhibition of French
art in the city. These influences are evident in Miro's work between
1916 and 1919. He came to know various Catalan artists during this time,
including the ceramic artist Llorens Artigas. Before World War I, he
painted in CÚzannesque and Fauve styles and had great admiration for
primitive Catalan art and the Art Nouveau forms.
Mirˇ and Surrealism
When Mirˇ went to Paris for the first time, he met Pablo Picasso. He
studied in Paris and Barcelona. Surrealism movement, best known for its
visual artworks, also started this time. Mirˇ divided his time between
Paris (winter) and Montroig (summer), participated in Dada activities
and associated with the prominent writers and poets. Picasso and
Salvador Dali were influential during the years Mirˇ was also developing
his own style. His studio neighbour in Rue Blomet was French artist
Andre Masson. In the mid-1920s he developed an abstract style, some
linear and some highly colored, generally floating on a plain
His works include Catalan Landscape (1923-1924) and Maternity (1924). He
also designed ballet sets, sculptures, murals, and tapestries. In 1925
he exhibited some of his works with the Surrealists. The time he spent
with writers and artists belonging to the Surrealist movement confirmed
Mirˇ in his transition towards surrealism. He invented a manner of
painting using curvilinear and fantastical forms suggesting dreamlike
situations. He distinguished his uniqueness in his own motifs and vivid
colors, for example, in Harlequin's Carnival, however, Motherhood with
its exemplary economy of subtle mechanism of its sexual symbolism
brought him well into his Surrealist period (1925-1927).
During the 1930s his style became more sober, but after WWII he produced
even larger abstracts. He also experimented with sculpture and
printmaking. He produced ceramic murals, including two in the UNESCO
building, Paris (1958). Eventually, these pictures became almost
entirely abstract and had a great influence on American Abstract
Expressionist artists in the late1940s and 1950s.
He designed stained glass and sets for the ballet impresario Sergei
Ceramics continued to preoccupy the artist in him, painting together
with sculptures; he painted marble and bronzes. On occasions he designed
settings for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes ballet: Romeo and Juliet
in collaboration with Max Ernst; and for Massine's Jeux d'enfantes
He produced tapestry cartoons, while his engravings (etchings, wood
engravings and lithographs) were exhibited in Paris, 1974.
Joan Mirˇ died in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, December 25, 1983.
His work was of exceptional diversity. Freedom of interpretation, allied
to a continuing search for fresh sources of inspiration gave substance
throughout his career, exemplary among modern artists.
He received several awards, including the Venice Biennale printmaking
prize (1954), Guggenheim International Award (1959) and Gold Medal of
fine Arts from King Juan Carlos of Spain (1980).
Joan Mirˇ's works are primarily found in Mirˇ Foundation, Barcelona;
Palma Majorca. It is a museum of modern art built in Montjuic, Barcelona
completed by architect Josep LluÝs Sert. It houses hundreds of his
canvases, also lithographs and sculptures.