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JOAN MIRÓ

Great catalan painter, sculptor, & prolific printmaker.

While often called a Surrealist, Miró was never a "card-carrying" member of the group, & never pledged any allegiance to the "Pope" of Surrealism, André Breton (see link). Miró was friendly with many of the Surrealists, & collaborated with them on various projects, but the movement was too theoretical to hold him for long, & he followed his own individual course all his long life.

There is a wealth of material about Miró on the web, & probably the best on-line introduction to the man & his work is by way of the home page of the Fundació Juan Miró, availabe in English, Spanish, & Catalan at http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/. This page provides a four-part biography & a selection of the artist's works for each of the periods of his life.

In early 1997 Northwest residents had an opportunity to see a good selection of Miró's work in the context of his fellow Catalan masters "From Gaudí to Tàpies" at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Although that show has closed & the works have goine back to Spain, the record of the exhibition still exists, by courtesy of the Dialogue Gallery Seattle. It's worth a visit at http://www.dialogue-gallery.com/tacoma/.

Worldwide, there were two huge exhibitions of Miró's work in the year of his hundredth birthday, 1993, one at the Foundation in Barcelona, the other at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Each produced a magnificent catalog.

The best coffee table book about Miró continues to be the monograph by Jacques Dupin, originally written at the request of the artist himself in 1957, & extensively revised & expanded in 1993, ten years after the artist's death.


'Miró: A single line, a definition inspired by the Catalan landscape.'

--Abridged Dictionary of Surrealism (1938)


  • 1901 -- Joan Miró, eight years old makes drawings that have been preserved & that show his individuality as a child. For example, he portrayed a visit to the footcare specialist -- http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/pedicur.htm.

  • 1907 -- While enrolled in a school of commerce, Miró attends art classes.

  • 1910 -- Miró fails at his first & only attempt to be anything but an artist.

  • 1911 -- During a convalescence in Montroig, Miró devotes himself to painting -- a devotion that he deserted for only brief periods during the remaining 72 years of his life, & then only to devote himself equally passionately to one or another differeent form of artistic expression.

  • 1915 -- Miró meets another future Catalan master, Josep Llorens i Artigas, with whom he collaborated many decades later.

  • 1917 -- Miró attends an exhibition of French art in Barcelona, and meets the Dadaist Francis Picabia -- see http://www.peak.org/~dadaist/English/graphics/picabia.html.

  • 1918 -- Miró, 25 years old, is given his first one-artist exhibition, in Barcelona.
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  • 1919 Nude with a Mirror, 1919, oil on canvas 113 x 102 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, http://artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/nude_with_a_mirror.jpg.html

    caf, http://www.caffeeuropa.it/1to16/caffemedia/miro/foto_d.html

    Self-Portrait (Autoretrat), 1919, oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm., Musee Picasso, Paris, http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/selfport.jpg.html

    jfa, page 1 of 4, from Web Museum, 72,465 http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_--.jpg

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    ABC Gallery, http://www.abcgallery.com/M/miro/miro20.html

  • 1920 -- In Paris on his first trip there, Miró meets fellow Catalan master Pablo Picasso. Although he is excited by what he discovers in the French capital, his art is still full of peasant motifs & sentimental "realistic" detail. He was painting things like Horse, Pipe, & Red Flower (Cavall, pipa i flor vermella), 1920, oil on canvas, 82.5 x 75 cm., Philadelphia Museum of Art, http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/horse.jpg.html

    jfa, page 1 of 4, from Web Museum, 113,969 http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_--.jpg

    csuh, second item, third row, http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Miro8.html

    caf, http://www.caffeeuropa.it/1to16/caffemedia/miro/foto_c.html

    The Table (Still Life with Rabbit)/La Taula [Natura morta del conill],1920, oil on canvas, 130 x 110 cm., Collection of Gustav Zumsteg, http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/rabbit.jpg.html

    jfa, page 1 of 4, from Web Museum, 126,522 http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_--.jpg

    csuh, second item, top row, http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Miro2.html

    caf, http://www.caffeeuropa.it/1to16/caffemedia/miro/foto_e.html

  • 1921-1922 -- Living in Paris, Miró has André Masson as a neighbor. He meets Tristan Tzara (see links) & other leaders of the avant-garde, including Antonin Artaud -- see http://www-personal.umich.edu/~rmutt/dictionary/artaud.html.

    During this period he paints his best-known pre-Surrealist picture, which became a prized possession of Ernest Hemingway & now belongs to all Americans: The Farm (La masia), 1921-1922, oil on canvas, 132 x 147 cm., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/farm.jpg.html

    jfa, page 1 of 4, from Web Museum, 221,689 http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_07.jpg

    csuh, third item, second row, http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Miro6.html

  • 1925 -- One year after the founding of the Surrealist movement, Miró participates in a Surrealist group exhibition.

  • 1926 -- Max Ernst & Joan Miró collaborate on designs for a production of Romeo & Juliet. Miró occupies a studio near that of Ernst & Arp.

  • 1929 -- Pilar Juncosa of Palma de Mallorca becomes the wife of Joan Miró. The newlyweds settle in Paris. This year the painter produces the first of his lithographs as illustrations for a text by Tristan Tzara.

  • 1930 -- A daughter -- their only child, is born to Pilar & Joan Miró. The artist is given his first exhibition in the United States. ?

  • 1931 -- For his first piece of sculpture, Miró used an assortment of objects, subjectively arranged, to create a figure personifyling the ironic & provocative spirit of Surrealism & its predecessor, Dada -- see Personage, 1931, wood, artificial flowers & umbrella, height 198 cm., gift of the artist, http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/personat.htm

  • 1933 -- Miró executes his first etchings, to illustrate a text by Georges Hugnet.

  • 1938 -- During a summer spent in Normandy, in collaboration with master printmakers, including Louis Marcoussis, Joan Miró works on etching & dry point, creating Portrait of Joan Miró by Miró & Marcoussis, 1938, etching, 33 x 27 cm., gift of the artist, http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/marcouss.htm

  • 1940-1941 -- Miró works in a fury over many months, creating the series of paintings called Constellations, which some think are his greatest & most characteristic works. Among these works are: Morning Star, 1940, tempera, egg, oil & pastel on paper, 38 x 46 cm., gift of Pilar Juncosa de Miró, http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/pedicur.htm

    reproduction, 14 x 17," 36 x 43 cm., http://www.artprintcollection.com/html/joan_miro_-_estel_matinal.html

    Nocturne, 1940, tempera, gouache, egg, oil, & pastel on paper, 38 x 46 cm., Private collection, http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/nocturne.jpg.html

    jfa, page 3 of 4, from Web Museum, 121,697 http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_--.jpg

    The Beautiful Bird Explaining the Unknown to the Loving Couple, 1941, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 174, 669, http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_24.jpg

    reproduction, 19 x 15," 48 x 38 cm, http://www.spectrumvoice.com/art/20th/european/spanish/miro/miro_--.jpg

    wustl, http://pharmdec.wustl.edu/juju/surr/images/miro/chiffres.jpg

    csuh, second image, second row, http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Miro5.html

  • 1942 -- Miró & his wife & daughter settle into the house where he was born in Barcelona. At this time he is painting on paper rather than canvas.

  • 1944-1946 -- In collaboration with Llorens i Artigas, Miró makes his first ceramics. He makes his first sculptures in bronze.
    See Moon Bird (Oiseau lunaire), 1966, bronze, 234 x 210 x 150 cm, Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, http://museoreinasofia.mcu.es/e/colecc/sala07/de0041.htm

    Fundacio Joan Miró assigns this work to 1946-1949, not 1966, & cites much more modest dimensions, 19 x 17 x 12.5 cm., gift of the artist http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/anglesocelunar.htm

  • 1947 -- On his first trip to the United States, Miró spends eight months painting a mural for a hotel in Cincinnati.
    He published the fifty prints of the Barcelona Series: http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/seriebcn.htm

    Barcelona Series - untitled; 1947 print - unnumbered edition, 8.5 x 11," alc, http://www.artloft.com/miro72.htm [print at top of page]

    Barcelona Series - untitled; 1947 print - unnumbered edition, 8.5 x 11," alc, http://www.artloft.com/miro51 [second image from top of page]

  • 1948 -- Maeght Gallery, Paris, begins to exhibit the work of Joan Miró, who becomes deeply identified with the dealer, his family, & the Foundation he builds in Saint-Paul-de- Vence.

  • 1952-1954 [Bird with Plumage Spread/Oiseau avec Plumage . . ., 1952-1954, see text, Dupin, p. 292, quoted below, http://www.artprintcollection.com/html/joan_miro_oiseau_au_plumage.html

    Smile of the Flamboyant Wings/Sourire des Flamboyantes . . ., 1952-1954. Jacques Dupin says of this & the preceding work, " . . . these are purely 'classics,' displaying all the gracefulness, delightful color, & joyfully sure line within which a lazy public taste has too often attempted to confine Miró. But he never let himself be confined within the formulas he is credited with, nor did he ever yield to that other demand of public opinion, 'change at any price.' p. 292, http://www.artprintcollection.com/html/joan_miro_-_sourire_des_flambo.html

    1953-56 -- Artigas & Miró work together extensively for the second time. Aside from ceramics, Miró makes small paintings on cardboard, & many prints. One of his works from this period is Dawn Perfumed by a Shower of Gold, 1954, watercolor & plaster on composition board, 42 ½ x 21 5/8" (108 x 54.9 cm), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -- three-paragraph description from SFMoMA catalogue, http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/miro/dawngold.jpg.html

  • 1959 -- Miró receives the International Guggenheim Award.

  • 1964 -- The Maeght Foundation, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, includes a Labyrinth, with sculptures by Miró & ceramics by Miró and Artigas.

  • 1968 -- The honors begin to roll in -- a doctorate from Harvard, major exhibitions in Tokyo & Barcelona.

  • 1970 -- Josep Royo works with Joan Miró on works using textiles as a medium - tapestries (sobreteixims) & sacks. One of these hangs in the East Building of the National Gallery, Washington, DC. Another hangs in the Miró Foundation, Barcelona: The Foundation Tapestry, 1979, wool, 750 x 500 cm., gift of the artist, http://www.bcn.fjmiro.es/fjm/obra/angles/tapis.htm

  • 1971 -- a collection of Miró's extravagantly lyrical poems is published as The Lizard with Golden Feathers/ Le Lezard aux Plumes d'Or, with fifteen lithographs & twenty-three pages of calligraphed poetic text by the artist, http://www.artprintcollection.com/html/joan_miro_-_le_lezard_aux_plum.html

  • 1974 -- Beginning in this decade, works by Miró are increasingly created for & found in public places. Many of these warks are large, but some are simpler & more modest in scale, like Head, bronze, Baltimore Museum of Art, Sculpture Garden, http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/baltimore/miro.jpg

  • 1975 -- June 10: Josep Lluis Sert's building for the Miró Foundation & Center for the Study of Contemporary Art is opened to the public.

  • 1981 -- Chicago acquires a major work by Miró, named for the city, bronze, reinforced concrete, with ceramic design at the base, installed across the street from Daley Plaza, where Picasso's 162-ton bronze sculpture dominates the scene: http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/baltimore/miro.jpg

  • 1983 -- 25 December -- Joan Miró dies in Palma de Mallorca, his wife's birthplace.

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    In his own home town, in the major museums & collections of modern art, & on the World Wide Web his deceptively simple images seem to proliferate & replicate themselves as they did during his lifetime. One of his images, similar to the central motif of Blue Star/ Etoile Bleue, Lithograph I, 1972, original lithograph, unnumbered edition, 13 x 10," reproduction 27 x 21," 69 x 53 cm., http://www.artprintcollection.com/html/joan_miro_-_etoile_bleue.html

    alc, http://www.artloft.com/miro21.htm (third image from the top, pictured above) has become the logo for one of Barcelona's banking chains. The blue star is understood to mean a customer, the small yellow blob a penny, & the larger red blob a cash box. The number of Miró prints sold & for sale is enormous. The patron saint of suggestive doodles is a worldwide phenomenon. Long may he flourish!


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