Sunday, 16 August 2015


“My characters have undergone the same process of simplification as the colours. Now that they have been simplified, they appear more human and alive than if they had been represented in all their details.” -  Joan Miró

Joan Miró Ferrà (April 20th, 1893 - December 25th, 1983) was a Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist. Originally from Barcelona, Joan Miró moved to Paris at an early age, where he began to develop an unconventional style of work. He soon became known in the community as a Surrealist because of his love for automatism and the use of sexual symbols in much of his work.

Joan Miró was very much against the established painting methods of the time, and he is often credited with being the founder of automatic drawing. Automatic drawing is the process of allowing the hand to move randomly on the canvas, leaving the artwork develop by chance. Many Surrealists believed that this form of drawing would reveal something about the subconscious human mind. For Joan Miró, automatic drawing was also a way to breaking free from conventional form.

Miró was very much against bourgeois art, claiming that it was used for propaganda and the promotion of a wealthy culture. Miró referred to his work as the assassination of painting. During the height of his career, Joan Miró experimented with many different types of art form, refusing to commit to any one artistic movement. Later in his career he began experimenting with tapestry. In 1974 he created World Trade Center Tapestry for the newly constructed Twin Towers. This work would later become the most expensive piece of art lost in the World Trade Center attacks of September 11th.

Joan Miró also began to delve into other aspects of media, including ceramics and window paintings. Some of his more radical ideas included four-dimensional art, and gas sculptures, though he was never able to put these ideas into practice. Perhaps his most important work of art in the United States is a glass mural titled “Personnages Oiseaux”, which was made for the Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas. Joan Miró began this large two-dimensional project at the age of 79, and it was not completely until he was 85 years old. The mural is made up of one million pieces of marble and Venetian glass, mounted on a special type of wood, and was attatched to the concrete wall of the museum. It was the first glass mosaic ever attempted by Miró, and though he wanted to make more, his deteriorating health prevented any future attempts of another project.

At the time of his death, Joan Miró was bedridden from heart disease and respiratory complications. He died at his home in Palma, Mallorca on December 25th, 1983. He is buried in his home town of Barcelona, near a museum that is dedicated entirely to his work. Today, his works are displayed in museums and galleries all over the world, and sell for anywhere between $250,000 and $17 million.

When Miró moved into the studio of Pau Gargallo on the rue Blomet in Paris, he came in contact with the poets and artists belonging to a group that had arisen from Dadaism. In 1924, this became the Surrealist group centred on the poet Andre Breton. Miró was never an orthodox Surrealist. However, the movement legitimised the use of dreams and the subconscious as artistic raw material. It thus offered him the possibility of liberating his own pictorial style by allowing him freely to combine the earthly and the magical elements seen in his “detailist” period. “Harlequin’s Carnival” above is good example of this change.

The world of the imagination and subconscious, rather than being an end in itself, was for Miró a way of giving shape in his paintings to his lived experiences and his memories. In spite of the fact that many of his pictures had been sold, Miró led a hard life in his studio in the Rue Blomet. “I used to come home in he evening without having eaten anything”, he reported later, “and I wrote down my feelings. During that year I spent a lot of time with poets; because I felt it necessary to overcome the ‘plastic’ in order to reach poetry.” After “The Farm”, “Harlequin’s Carnival” was to become Miró’s second striking work. In it, painting and graphic elements that run through the picture seem for the first time to be unified.

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