JOAN MIRÓ

(1893-1983)

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Biography

Since the age of cave dwellers, art has done nothing but degenerate.  - Joan Miró

 

In his inner self, Miró is elemental, a natural child, an earth-man, yet a dreamer, a poet whose flights of fancy know no bounds.   - Douglas Cooper

 

Joan Miró Ferra was born in 1893 at Montroig near Barcelona, the son of a goldsmith/watchmaker. At the age of 14, he entered the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, but he was not an apt pupil and his earliest efforts discouraged his parents who prevailed upon him to give up art in 1910 for a position in an office. However, in 1912, he took up his brush again, entering the Academy Galí, where he was fortunate to have professors who were not narrow-minded and who encouraged him in his individuality. He had the opportunity to view several exhibits of contemporary French art: Impressionists, Fauves, Cubists and the ex-pat Catalan, Picasso.  In 1918, the Barcelona art dealer, Dalmau, presented Miró's first one-man show.

 

After the war, Miró made his first trip to Paris in the spring of 1919, returning again the following winter and then making it his routine to spend the winters in Paris and the summers back in Spain. In 1921, he had his first solo exhibition in Paris, which attracted critical acclaim but no buyers. He lived in difficult circumstances until 1925 when his controversial exhibition at the gallery of Pierre Loeb became a tremendous success. 

 

These had been Miró's formative years when he liberated his spirit with the Dadas and the Surrealists and found his own personal vocabulary and iconography. These tools took him from the straightforward illusionistic rendering of the material realm to his personal subjective world of association, sentiment and fantasy. By the late 20s, he had effectively wiped his canvas clean of any recognizable form in an effort to create an expression of the "real process of thought". In 1930, he had his first show in New York.

 

The 30s were a turbulent time emotionally for the artist due largely to the political situation in both his native Spain and the incipient war in France.  Referred to as his aggressive or savage period, the works often include monsters and dark sinister shapes along with the evolving arabesques and calligraphic forms.

 

In 1929, he had married Pilar Juncosa who gave birth to his daughter, Dolores, in 1931. They lived in Paris until the outbreak of WWII, going first to the south of France and then back to Spain in 1940, where he began his Constellation series, rediscovering the equilibrium and poetry of earlier work.

 

At this time, Miró began experimenting in many different media. Primarily a painter, he also became well known for his graphics, ceramics and sculpture. In his later years, he created many large mural commissions as well as stained glass. By the 50s, he had developed a bold, forceful brush stroke while retaining the guilelessness and mirth for which he is justly celebrated. 

 

The Museum of Modern Art in New York presented his first major retrospective in 1941 but, due to circumstances, Miró did not visit the U.S. for the first time until 1947. The subject of innumerable exhibitions in major museums on every continent, Joan Miró died on Christmas Day 1983 in Palma de Mallorca.

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