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Joan Miro

 (1893 - 1983)
Joan Miro was active/lived in Spain, France.  Joan Miro is known for abstract curvilinear design painting, collage, mural.

Joan Miro

    mee-ROE  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Joan Miro
Joan Miro was born in Barcelona, Spain on April 20, 1893, the son of a watchmaker. From 1912 he studied at the Barcelona Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Gali. In the first quarter of the 20th century, Barcelona was a cosmopolitan, intellectual city with a craving for the new in art, music and literature. But it was not the place where great art was being made. That place was Paris and Miro established himself there at the age of twenty-six. He made friends with Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Ernest Hemingway, Max Ernst and Paul Klee and was accepted as a Surrealist, looking stronger as the years went by. He lived alone in Paris in total poverty, but everytime he went out he wore a monocle and white spats. He kept his brushes clean, waxed and polished the floor of his studio and arranged his canvases in neat order.

Miro went about his career with orderly determination. He wrote to Picasso in 1929 that he was looking for a studio, a dealer and a wife. That same year he married the daughter of family friends. Her name was Pilar Juncosa and they were happily married in 1929 and were together for fifty-four years. They had one daughter, Dolores.

Miro was certainly the most distinguished painter of Catalonia; he was intensely proud of that fact. All of his work was conceived in Montroig (the site of his family's farm). Most important of these was the painting named The Farm which did not sell in Paris and was sold finally to Ernest Hemingway for $250.

He was the most enduring of the Surrealist artists; he first visited the United States in 1947 in order to execute a mural Commission in Cincinnati, Ohio. His reputation had preceded him and he had already had enormous influence on such American artists as Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, who had adopted his Surrealist automatism and mysterious primitive symbols for their own purposes.

Miro had tried his hand at ceramics, bronze sculpture, printmaking, book illustration, posters, costume design, etc. He was seventy-nine years old when he began his series of monumental bronzes. When he was eighty, he joined forces with a young Spaniard named Josep Royo who was a weaver of tapestries. Miro would spread Royo's tapestries on the floor and proceed to design changes, adding all kinds of materials, painting some areas, even burning areas. The result was a series called Sobreteixims. Miro has transformed the Royo tapestries from admirable folk art into perhaps masterpieces.

He died on Christmas Day in 1983 in Palma Majorca where he had lived and worked for several years.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Master Paintings from the Phillips Collection
Peter Plagens in Newsweek Magazine, October 25, 1993
David Galloway in ARTnews, May 1998
Miro's "Little Miracles" by Arthur C. Danto in ARTnews, October 1993
A.T.Baker in Time Magazine, November 26, 1973
Smithsonian Magazine, date unknown

Biography from Auctionata
Joan Miró (1893-1983) grew up in Barcelona, where he started his artistic education at the art academy La Llotja against his parents’ will.  After a short time, he was allowed to quit his commercial apprenticeship to dedicate himself exclusively to art. Miró became a pupil of a private art school, founded by the Catalan painter Francesc Galí.  In 1917, he met Francis Picabia, who familiarized him with the Dadaists.  Miró was also influenced by the fauvists and cubists. 

In 1920, he moved to Paris, where he lived among the creative artists of his time.  He got to know Hans Arp, René Magritte, Constantin Brâncusi, and Alberto Giacometti, and exhibited with Salvador Dalí, Yves Tanguy, Meret Oppenheim, and Max Ernst in several exhibitions about Dadaism and Surrealism.  Miró moved to Mallorca in 1956, where he primarily created sculptures on a huge property, later ceramics, as well as repeatedly oil paintings. (msc)

Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art
Joan Miró Ferra was born April 20, 1893, in Barcelona Spain, the son of a goldsmith and watchmaker.  At the age of 14, he went to business school in Barcelona and also attended La Lonja's Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales in the same city.  Upon completing three years of art studies, and under pressure from his parents, he took a position as an accounting clerk. After suffering a nervous breakdown, he abandoned business and resumed his art studies, attending Galí's Escola d'Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915.

Miró's work before 1920 showed the latest artistic influences, including the bright colors of the Fauves* and the geometric forms of Cubism*. It was in Paris through the 1920s-1930s where, under the influence of Surrealist* poets and writers, Miró evolved his mature style.  His latest works drew on the Surrealist principles of memory, fantasy, and the irrational to create visual art.  Miró's works were also shaped by the flat, two-dimensionality of his native Catalan folk art, Spanish Romanesque church frescoes and the primitivism* of Paleolithic cave painting. His forms took on a whimsical quality with playfully distorted animal & human forms, twisted organic shapes and boldly colored geometric constructions, set against flat neutral backgrounds, mostly painted using red, blue, green and yellow.

Joan Miró's interest in the graphic arts* was due to his continual search for new resources to develop his artistic abilities, as well as, the satisfaction that he derived from his experimentation with the most diverse materials.  The mediums of etching* and lithography* facilitated, to his delight, a greater distribution of his artwork to a wider audience.

Miró began his work in the graphic print medium due to his friendships with the circle of poets and writers that he met in Paris by means of André Masson about 1925.  He created various illustrations for their avant-garde* illustrated books, but his dedication and most intense production did not take place until the 1960s. During those years, he created thousands of prints and over a hundred illustrated books during which he attained an excellent technical mastery, particularly in the use of carborundum* to create relief on the etching plate.

Miró's first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1941.  He received the Grand Prize for Graphic Work at the Venice Biennale* in 1954, and in 1958 Miró was given a Guggenheim International Award for murals for the UNESCO building in Paris.  In 1956, aided by his international popularity, Miro would finally move into the villa of his dreams, located in Palma de Majorca.  The new home was built in an ultra-modern style typical for the avant-garde architecture of the fifties.  In 1992 it was transformed into the Miro Museum open to the public.

Miró retrospectives took place at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1962, and the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1974.  In 1978 the Musée National d'Art Moderne exhibited over five hundred works in a major retrospective of his drawings.

Miró died on December 25, 1983 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain survived by his wife Pilar and daughter Dolores.

"My characters have undergone the same process of simplification as the colors. Now that they have been simplified, they appear more human and alive than if they had been represented in all their details."

"The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I'm overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun. There, in my pictures, tiny forms in huge empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains - everything which is bare has always greatly impressed me."

Select Museum Collections:
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Tate Gallery, London
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from
Biography photo for Joan Miro
Joan Miró was born April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Spain. His dad was a goldsmith and watchmaker. Joan had an early passion for art, and took drawing classes while at primary school. As for his other classes though, he did rather poorly. Art was the only thing he excelled at. In 1907, he enrolled at School of Industrial and Fine Arts in Barcelona, the Lonja, and stayed there until 1910.

In 1912 while recovering from typhoid, he officially decided he wanted to be a painter. He spent three years at a school run by Francesco Galí, and studied art at the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. He had his first solo exhibition in 1918 at the Daluma Galleries. All the art in the show was influenced by Fauvism, Cubism, folk-Catalan art, and Roman Frescoes; his work at this point combines many types of art, but it does not look anything like his mature work.

He traveled to Paris and met Picasso in 1920. Miró considered it an honor to meet one of his favorite painters, but post-meeting, his work became surrealist; as if Picasso helped make up his style and mind. He held his own solo exhibit in Paris in 1921 at the La Licorne Gallery. Ernest Hemmingway bought one of his paintings, The Farm, which was a fauvist like piece. One of his most recognized works was painted a few years following this. To some viewers Harlequin's Carnival, 1925, is really spastic, and confusing because it has a bunch of toys and imaginary things all over the canvas, making it look like a kid's mind. This piece represents what his mature work would resemble.

Miró's best friend was Max Ernst, another Surrealist artist and together, they were asked to design the costumes and set for the ballet Romeo and Juliet in 1926. It was performed in Paris by the Ballets Russes. Soon after, Joan started becoming interested in other types of art, like collages, lithographs, etchings, and engraving. His collage Spanish Dancer is the most well-known.

In 1929, Miró married Pilar Juncosa, and they had a daughter, Dolores on July 17, 1931. Soon after, the Spanish Civil War broke out, they moved to Paris. Joan was able to continue his art there and raise his family. They moved back to Spain in 1940. During the time in Spain though, his art started showing Surrealism. For instance, Composition, made in 1933, is kind of a fantasy/dream-like state. It has the influence of Henri Matisse in the lines, but Sigmund Freud in the overall idea. It suggests that you have to search for your identity in your mind.

During the late 50's, Joan focused on public art projects such as murals and plop art. The most famous is the Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun, made from 1957-1958, and are located at the UNESCO building in Paris. The murals are ceramic, which became his craze at this time in his art.

In 1972, he created The Joan Miró foundation, Center for Study of Contemporary Art. His friend designed the buildings, and he donated all his art to this place, which was about 240 paintings, 175 sculptures, nine textiles, four ceramics, and 8,000 drawings. Following the opening of his museum, he went to Wichita State University in Kansas and did the glass mosaic Personnage Oiseaux from 1972-1978.

Four years before his death, Joan was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona. During the last couple years of his life, he suffered from heart disease, and he died on December 25, 1983 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. He was 90.

Throughout his life, Miró's goal for his art was to be able to make the painting into a poem, for a picture speaks a thousand words, and a Miró could speak two thousand. He also sought to balance compositions. Like The Farm, 1920, which is the piece Hemmingway bought, the cracked wall balances out the chicken coup on the other side of the picture. The ladder in The Farm symbolizes escape, which Miró thought completed the picture, for it is a work of art and a poem.

According to Miró, his work "always takes place in three stages: first, the suggestion, always forms the material; second, the conscious organization of these forms; and third, the compositional enrichment." For example, a crack on the wall could be the suggestion, then he would build off that with some further shapes and forms, and after that finish the painting off.

Joan Miró's life philosophy was, "you must always plant your feet firmly on the ground if you want to jump into the air. The fact that I come down to Earth from time to time makes it possible to jump all the higher." His artwork in the beginning was small, and critics didn't pay too much attention to it. But each time he started a new piece, it became more and more popular, more and more influential, which led to his significance in today's art world and history.

Biography from
Biography photo for Joan Miro
Joan Miró Ferra was born April 20, 1893, in Barcelona.  At the age of 14, he went to business school in Barcelona and also attended La Lonja's Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales y Bellas Artes in the same city.  Upon completing three years of art studies, he took a position as a clerk.  After suffering a nervous breakdown, he abandoned business and resumed his art studies, attending Francesc Galí's Escola d'Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915.  Miró received early encouragement from the dealer José Dalmau, who gave him his first solo show at his gallery in Barcelona in 1918.  In 1917, he met Francis Picabia.

In 1920, Miró made his first trip to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso.  From this time, Miró divided his time between Paris and Montroig, Spain.  In Paris, he associated with the poets Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Tristan Tzara and participated in Dada activities.  Dalmau organized Miró's first solo show in Paris, at the Galerie la Licorne in 1921. His work was included in the Salon d'Automne of 1923. In 1924 Miró joined the Surrealist group. His solo show at the Galerie Pierre, Paris, in 1925 was a major Surrealist event; Miró was included in the first Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre that same year. He visited the Netherlands in 1928 and began a series of paintings inspired by Dutch masters. That year he also executed his first papiers collés (pasted papers) and collages. In 1929 he started his experiments in lithography, and his first etchings date from 1933. During the early 1930s he made Surrealist sculptures incorporating painted stones and found objects. In 1936 Miró left Spain because of the civil war; he returned in 1941.  Also in 1936 Miró was included in the exhibitions Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  The following year he was commissioned to create a monumental work for the Paris World's Fair.

Miró's first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1941. That year Miró began working in ceramics with Josep Lloréns y Artigas and started to concentrate on prints; from 1954 to 1958 he worked almost exclusively in these two mediums. He received the Grand Prize for Graphic Work at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and his work was included in the first Documenta exhibition in Kassel the following year. In 1958 Miró was given a Guggenheim International Award for murals for the UNESCO building in Paris.  The following year he resumed painting, initiating a series of mural-sized canvases. During the 1960s he began to work intensively in sculpture. Miró retrospectives took place at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1962, and the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1974. In 1978 the Musée National d'Art Moderne exhibited over five hundred works in a major retrospective of his drawings. Miró died on December 25, 1983, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Biography from Acquisitions of Fine Art
Biography photo for Joan Miro
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Catalan Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundació Joan Miró, was established in his native city in 1975.

Born: April 20, 1893, Barcelona, Spain
Died: December 25, 1983, Palma, Majorca, Spain
Full name: Joan Miró i Ferrà
Periods: Surrealism, Modern art, Dada
Children: Dolores Miró

Joan Miró i Ferrà (April 20,1893 - December 25,1983) was a world renowned Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramist, who was born in the sea port city of Barcelona.

Miro was the son of a watchmaking father and a goldsmith mother, he was exposed to the arts from a very young age. There have been some drawing recovered by Miro dating to 1901, when he was only 8 years old. Miro enrolled at the School of Industrial and Fine Arts in Barcelona until 1910; during his attendance he was taught by Modest Urgell and Josep Pascó.

After overcoming a serious bout of typhoid fever in 1911, Miro decided to devote his life entirely to painting by attending the school of art taught by Francesc Galí. He studied at La Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, and in 1918 set up his first individual exhibition in the Dalmau Galleries, in the same city. His works before 1920 (the date of his first trip to Paris) reflect the influence of different trends, like the pure and brilliant colors used in Fauvism, shapes taken from cubism, influences from folkloric Catalan art and Roman frescoes from the churches.

Biography from Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art
One of the 20th century's well-known artists, Joan Miro responded to a range of stimuli throughout his long, creative life. His work celebrated everything from Egyptian pyramids to New York skyscrapers, Dutch painters such as Vermeer to the night sky, the voluptuous architecture of fellow Barcelonan Antonio Gaudi to cave paintings and petroglyphs.  It was music and especially literature, however, that were at the heart of Miro's sensibility as a picture-maker.

1947 was the first year in which Miro created the multicolor etchings and lithographs for which he is reowned.  Although he had been making original prints since the late 1920's, especially in coordination with writers and as part of various Surrealist projects, it was after World War II that he turned to the graphic media in earnest.  This return to printmaking engaged Miro's imagination until his death, and produced a body of intricate, innovative graphics which always reflected a restless search for different methods of composition and differing visual content.

Miro's printmaking embodies the evolution of his thinking every bit as much as his paintings.  His prints bring to the foreground his graphic concerns-the line, the writing, the disposition of forms, the elucidation of his personal iconography.  A Miro print, whether from 1947 or 1981, speaks, sings, and dances with the same verve as his paintings.

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About  Joan Miro

Born:  1893 - Montroig, Spain
Died:   1983 - Palma de Majorca, Spain
Known for:  abstract curvilinear design painting, collage, mural