Joan-Miró

Joan Miró (1893-1983)



Biography

The son of artisan traders in Barcelona, Joan Miró felt the desire to become an artist very early in life, and had to overcome his father’s reluctance. Always deeply attached to his homeland, he embodied the tenacious and hard-working Catalan character. Throughout his life he felt the need to anchor himself in reality in order to aspire to a spiritual dimension.

As a child Miró had been interested in prehistoric art and Romanesque art in Catalonia. He was therefore shocked when he discovered the French avant-garde (Van Gogh, Cézanne, the Fauves, Matisse, and Cubism). Miró developed the foundations of his art in mystical communion with his land: ‘a vision of shapes, rhythms, and colours’ which ‘must form and nourish my mind’.

Miró discovered the Dada movement during his first trip to Paris in 1920. He decided to move to Paris the following year, in 1921, and to ‘become an international Catalan’. He continued to take refuge in his village Montroig during the summer, which is where he began The Farm (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), a masterpiece synthesis of his miniaturist and naïve period. Shortly thereafter, a meeting in Paris with the gestational supporters of Surrealism (who advocated the exploration of the imaginary), freed him of his torments caused by realistic representation.

Miró’s new, unique plastic language of a poetic world was suddenly and definitively unveiled in the summer of 1923 after a slow period during which the artist’s revelations matured.

The Tilled Field (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York) was his first poetic metaphor of nature: objects and living beings, simplified and painted in flat colours, exist in an open space, without proportions or perspective. This alchemic mutation seems even more drastic in the Portrait of Mrs. K., which debuts his motif for representing women by angles and circles.

Always using reality as his starting point (as evidenced by his preparatory drawing books), Miró created his own vocabulary of coloured, geometric figures with vibratile appendages (hair, ears, eyes), symbolic lines (straight or curved) to suggest an object, with associations to words or phrases following Dada’s example.

Henceforth, the miniaturist style, masterfully demonstrated in Harlequin’s Carnival (1924-25, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York), would alternate with bare canvases characterised by a monochrome background achieved with a cloth, which contain some furtive forms, without a doubt related to the depths of the unconscious and originating in the spiritual image of the great Spanish mystics of the 16th century (which the artist read passionately) (The Birth of the World, 1925, Museum of Modern Art, New York).

These two opposing techniques reflect an oscillation between darkness and light, between the world of earthly powers and the desire to elevate to purity. For Miró, there is no hierarchy between the visible and invisible worlds.

The fundamental principles of his art became well-established, and would not cease to guide his constant creativity until the mid-1970s, though indeed marked by a non-linear journey (preconceived anguish in the Spanish and World Wars which generated the series of Wild paintings), toward a quest for original simplicity and purity (L’Or de l’Atzur, 1967, Fondation Joan Miró, Barcelona).

(Martine Heudron)

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Exhibitions/Bibliography

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Press review

https://www.visitportugal.com/en/content/joan-miro-materiality-and-metmorphosis
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/arts/design/miro-calder-and-a-convergence-of-constellations.html
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2011/aug/15/joan-miro-retrospective-tate-modern
https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/miro-joan/painting
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160119-inside-the-studio-of-joan-mir
https://www.fmirobcn.org/en/
http://time.com/93211/joan-miro-painting-sale-9-3-million/
https://www.thelocal.es/20160519/grandson-to-auction-miro-paintings-to-help-refugees
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/arts/design/miro-collection-to-stay-in-portugal.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/travel/in-spain-miros-majorca.html
https://www.ft.com/content/689e4d66-0c3a-11e4-9080-00144feabdc0
https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/miro
http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/miro-sculptor-yorkshire-sculpture-park-wakefield/
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v15/bp15-10.html
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/11/10/angry-young-man
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/mar/30/joan-miro-barcelona-tate
http://artdaily.com/news/81899/Exhibition-at-Kunsthaus-Zurich-presents-Joan-Mir--s-large-scale-mural-works#.WYBe9ShGufI

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