Joan Miró 1893 - 1983
Born in 1893 to a watchmaker and a blacksmith, Miró was enrolled to business school in Barcelona at the age of 14 with the hopes of a bright future. After a couple of years, however, he suffered a nervous breakdown. This was followed by the realisation that he wanted to continue the art studies he had enjoyed in his childhood - his earliest surviving drawings are dated in 1901, when he was just seven years’ old.
"For me, a painting must give off sparks. It must dazzle like the beauty of a woman or a poem."
Miró was an extremely prolific artist in the complex period of 20th century Modern art and lived until the age of 90. From 1912 to 1915 he was taught at art school by Francesc Gali who was a huge influence, helping him build his own identity as an artist. Gali prompted Miró to handle the objects he painted in order to fully understand them and the space that they occupied. This process introduced Miró to spatial qualities and the idea that all objects are living; an attitude that, later in life, would inspire him to sculpt objects or rejuvenate old ones.
Joan Miró routinely washed his hands before he picked up his art materials. His work process was sacred to him, a respectful, holy experience that he used not only as an emotional outlet, but a physical one too.
Between the years of 1915 to 1917, Miró spent time in an estate in Montroig, near Tarragona, that his parents had bought following his breakdown. Here, he experimented with the boldly colourful Fauvist style, yet his treatment of form was more geometric - influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne and the Cubist artists. Then in 1917, Miró’s first solo show was held in Josep Dalmau’s gallery in Barcelona - the same gallerist organised his first solo show in Paris.
In 1920, Miró became introduced to the tight-knit group of artists, including Picasso, Arp and Ernst, that took Paris by storm after the First World War. From then on, Miró divided his time between Paris and Montroig, and mingled with Dadaists, poets and Surrealists who opened the door to the concept of the subconscious and automatic art.
Miró confessed that he never planned what he would paint. His body and emotions would carry his brushwork to create the shapes and the meaning, in an animalistic or childish way. After signing the Surrealist manifesto of 1924, his focus on the sub-conscious became stronger as he painted dreamscapes and imaginary landscapes. For this reason, Surrealist front-runner Andre Bréton, who deeply believed in the power of the imaginary, said that Miró was “the most Surrealist of us all”. However, it is clear when assessing Miró’s entire career that he did not want to conform to a particular movement or group for he was politically charged, disliked convention and wanted to evolve without limits.
The years that followed were more experimental for Miró. He began working with techniques such as collage, lithography and sculpture. However, the Second World War shook France and Miró moved between Normandy and Montroig. It was during this time that he painted his famous series of 23 paintings on paper, the “Constellations”. In the late 1940s, he became more preoccupied with his increasingly large sculptures that included his early figurations and even erotic fetishes
Miró became internationally famous in the years that follow the Second World War. His sculptures, drawings, and paintings were exhibited around the world. He was commissioned to paint a number of famous murals, and monuments. Miró was honoured in Paris in 1962 with a major exhibition of his collected works at the National Museum of Modern Art.
The Catalan architect Jose Luis Sert built him the large studio of which he had dreamed all his life on Mallorca. In spite of his fame, however, Miró, an introverted man, continued to devote himself exclusively to looking and creating. His art had developed slowly from his attempts at expression to the playful masterpieces of his later period. In his late works Miró employed an even greater simplification of figure and background; he sometimes created works merely by setting down a dot and a sensitive line on a sea-blue surface, as in Blue II (1961).
You can visit Miro's art gallery and foundation to see an extensive collection of his life's works in Barcelona.
Slade House collects and owns original lithographs, giclees and limited edition prints by all of the artists represented here - only some of which are for sale online. Please get in touch if you would like to see our wider collection.