Joan Miro (1893-1983)

Joan Miro

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Joan Miró, a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist, was born in Barcelona, Spain on April 20, 1893.  He began drawing classes at Carrer del Regomir 13 at the age of seven.  In 1907, despite his father’s defiance, he enrolled at the fine art academy at La Llotja.  Beginning in 1912, he studied at the Barcelona Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Gali. 

In 1918, at the age of 25, Miró exhibited his work at his first solo show at the Dalmau gallery.  His work was ridiculed and defaced.  A young Miró was inspired by Cubist and Surrealist exhibitions from abroad, and the bright colors of Fauves.  In 1920, he moved to Paris, where he was influenced by poets and writers, and developed his unique style: organic forms and flattened picture planes drawn with a sharp line.  Miró was originally part of the Generation of ’27, which was made up of Spanish poets, writers, painters and film makers.  They included Luis Buñuel, Miguel Hernández, José María Hinojosa and García Lorca.  Buñuel, Hernández and Hinojosa were murdered by Franco during Spain’s fascist reign.  Some were able to flee to France and the U.S., Miró was among this group.

Repression had a large impact on Joan Miró’s Surrealist work, as did his awareness of Haitian Voodoo art and the Cuban Santería religion.  His works included playfully distorted animal and human forms, twisted organic shapes, and boldly colored gemotric constructions set against flat neutral backgrounds, and painted with mostly red, blue, green and yellow.  Miró used mediums of etching and lithography, which facilitated the distribution of his artwork to a wider audience.  He created various illustrations for avant-garde illustrated books.

Joan Miró’s first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1941.  He received many awards throughout his lifetime, including the Grand Prize for Graphic Work at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and the Guggenheim International Award for murals for the UNESCO building in Paris in 1958.  Miró’s retrospectives took place at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1962, and at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1974.  The Musée National d’Art Moderne exhibited over five hundred of his works in a major retrospective in 1978. Today, his works are highly sought after and in the collections of major art collectors and museums.

Joan Miró died on December 25, 1989 in Palma de Mallorca.  He was survived by his wife Pilar and daughter Dolores. 

To view a video about Joan Miro, click here.

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