Miró, Joan

MIRÓ, Joan

1893-1983

Joan Miro (1893-1983) was born April 20, 1893 in Barcelona to Michel Miro Adzerias a goldsmith, and Dolores Ferra, the daughter of a cabinetmaker.  At an early age, Miro attended drawing lessons in the evenings after school, studying under Carrer del Regomir.  At 14, after a brief period of time at a school of commerce in Barcelona he entered the La Lonja Academy of Fine Arts where he came under the influence of two teachers: Modesto Urgelle and Jose Pasco.  He continued his studies with Pasco while working as a clerk in a business house until a serious illness caused him a leave of absence.  Then in 1912 he entered the art school of Francisco Gali in Barcelona.  During his years at the school he became interested and influenced by contemporary painting, Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism, and thus began his illustrious art career. You can now find many timeless Joan Miro etchings for sale at Galerie Michael.

He attended drawing sessions of the Sant Lluch Circle, where the architect Gaudi had been a student.  In 1916 he visited an exhibition of French art organized by Vollard in Barcelona.  During this time Miro met many influential figures of the art world, such as F.Picabia, the founder of the Dada review “391,”Marie Laurencin, and Max Jacob.  He had his first exhibition in 1918 at the Gallery Dalmau, and in the same year became a member of the Agrupacio Courbet, a group of young painters around Artigas.  He painted “detailist” landscapes at this time.  Then in 1919 Miro took his first visit to Paris, where he met and became friends with Picasso.  He spent the subsequent winters in Paris, returning to Montroig with his family for the summer.  At the end of 1920 he took a studio at 45 rue Blomet in Paris.

His first Paris exhibition in 1921, organized by Dalmau at the Galerie La Licorne was a complete failure.  Until his next exhibition in 1923 Miro established a close relationship with the neighboring artists surrounding his studio in Paris; and with Henry Miller and Hemingway.  Then in 1924 he joined Andre Breton Louis Aragon, and Paul Eluardin the Surrealist group, and in 1925 took part in the Surrealist exhibition at Galerie Pierre.  During the years that followed he lived next to and worked closely with Max, Ernst, Magritte, Eluard, and Arp, he was married in 1930 to Pilar Juncosa on October 12th, and continued exhibiting with the Surrealists from New York to London.

The 1930s saw many changes for Miro.  His daughter, Maria Dolores, was born in 1930.  He continued to travel and exhibit in Europe, participating in exhibitions in New York and Japan.  He also began etching and engraving early in the 1930s, ushering in an oeuvre that would stretch to the end of his life.  The decade would see him creating unique pieces, like the comprehensive stage sets for the Ballets Russe in 1931 and his pastel “savage paintings”.  In 1934, his paintings became populated with increasingly distorted depictions of the anxiety and distress of those oppressed by the oncoming civil war.

After the outbreak of war in Spain in 1936 Miro left Spain and Catalonia, not to return for four years.  While he had considerable experience living abroad, Miro found himself distressed in exile and without a proper studio.  The work he began to exhibit became a more direct response to the ongoing conflicts of the decade.  In 1937 Aidez l’Espagne appeared in Cahiers d’Art 12, nos. 4-5, a European art review, which in the face of the impending crisis, devoted multiple issues to Spain and to raising money for the Republican forces.  The Joan Miro painting The Reaper was also created for the Spain’s Republican Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair.  It depicted a Catalan peasant with flailing arms and a contorted visage, whose sickle represents at once his labor, growing communist tendencies, and as a modified scythe, a symbol of death.  It was one of his most unequivocally political statements, and a measure of the impact events in Spain had on the artist, despite his absence.  Unfortunately, it was lost after the exhibition.   He had 22 paintings included in the International Surrealist exhibition in the same year, at the New Burlington Galleries in London.

In 1940 Miro returned to Paris in the face of the advancing German army.  He returned to Spain that same year, against multiple warnings.  His open support of the Spanish Republic and public opposition to Ferdinand Franco made him a target.  Forced to live in exile, Miro lived on the small Catalan island of Mallorca.  Despite the lack of cultural stimulation Miro had grown accustomed to, he continued to expand artistically, taking time away from painting and focusing more on printmaking, bronze, ceramics, and works on paper.  Subject wise, Miro began to focus on celestial bodies, such as the moon and stars, and began working on his gouache series Constellations.  In 1941, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held their first major Miro retrospective.

In 1942 Miro returned to live in Barcelona, he begins to work with ceramics in collaboration with Artigas.  He also made frequent trips to Paris in order to work with his good friend and lithographer Fernand Mourlot.  He makes his first visit to the United States in 1947, and returns to Paris the next year where he produced numerous engravings and lithographs.  In 1948 Galerie Maeght hosted its first exhibition of paintings and graphic works.  Miro collaborated with Fernand Mourlot to make the original poster advertising the exhibition.

Post World War II, Miro began to move away from easel painting and continued to experiment with newer media, like sculpture and graphic art.  In 1956, he settled in Mallorca, establishing his studio, designed by architect Josep Lluis Sert.  His printmaking becomes colorful and exuberant, featuring the soft juxtaposition of painterly values and linear figures.  Miro also took this time to rediscover Gaudi and the Romanesque paintings which had inspired him earlier in his career.

Many of his works from the 1950s and onward reflect a personal and cultural emphasis in the arts on popular access.  Miro took on private and public sculpture, as well as murals commissioned for businesses in the United States.  Miro found that printmaking easily disseminated to both galleries and general audiences, while allowing for infinite experimentation.  In 1954, Miro received the Grand Prize for Engraving at the 27th Venice Biennial, and in 1959 he was awarded the Guggenheim International Award.

The 1960s saw Miro taking on more public arts projects, as well as collaborating with other artists in hopes of further exploring the graphic medium.  Resulting from Miro’s knowledge of American Abstract Expressionism, Eastern Art and calligraphy, this decade also saw a transformed strength and expressivity in his work.  Miro also pursued setting up his own printmaking studio in Palma, in hopes of making his works more available to a larger population.

Miro died in his Mallorca home in December of 1983.  Today, Joan Miro etchings for sale can fetch as much as $26 million, with an auction high of $17 million (for La Caresse des etoiles sold on May 6 2008).  Even after his death, Miro continues to be a significant influence on other 20th century artists.  In 1993, on the hundredth anniversary of his birth, several exhibitions were held in his honor, at museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina.

Explore Galerie Michael to find original Joan Miro etchings for sale, and build an art collection of the finest masterpieces.

Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan

Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Guggenheim Museum, New York

Hermitage Museum

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC

Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Museum, Quebec

Museo Patio Herreriano de Valladolid, Spain

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Museum of Modern Art, New York

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Palazzo Forti, Verona

Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid

San Diego Museum of Art

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart,

Tate Gallery, London, UK

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran

Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

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