Joan Miró was a painter, sculptor, etcher and ceramist born in 1893 in Barcelona. In 1907 he studied at the École de Commerce de Barcelone and also underwent drawing classes at the École des Beaux Arts of Lonja. Two of his mentors, Modesto Urgell and José Pasco had a strong influence on him. Later on, he met Joan Prats and J.F. Rafols at the académie de dessin du cercle Sant Lluch.

The artist’s first solo exhibition was in 1918 at the Dalmau Gallery. He met Picasso in Paris in 1919 and had his first Parisian exhibition at the Galerie La Licorne in 1921. Miró befriended Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller and also took part in reunions with the surrealist group comprising of Eluard, Aragon and Breton. He created a style that opened up the possibility for an imaginary world with symbols and geometric shapes. A tension between the familiar and strange, imaginary and reality can be found in his practice. The artist inspired himself from the unconscious and his works became abstract with organic shapes. Miró had explained « I work like a gardener or a winemaker. Things come slowly. My vocabulary of shapes, I did not discover it suddenly. It formed itself despite me. »

In 1930 he had an exhibition papiers collés at the Galerie Pierre and also had his first exhibition in the U.S. at the Valentine Gallery in New York. That summer, he started his first Constructions, a way of breaking line, calling into question a visual tool that he found too easy to master. He returned to live in Barcelona in 1932 and made the poster « Aider l’Espagne » and painted the war of constellations that portray his anxieties and a desire to escape. The Museum of Modern Art of New York organized his first big retrospective. He then turned to ceramics and after the war, his works had an enormous success.

In 1954 he was a guest of honor at the Italian pavilion of the Venise Biennale and received the grand prix international de la gravure. Miró was awarded the grand prix of the Guggenheim foundation in 1959 for the two walls of the Unesco. He had numerous retrospectives in institutions such as the Tate Gallery in London, Kunsthaus of Zurich, Fondation Maeght and in Barcelona. Miró was awarded the Carnegie Prize in Pittsburgh in 1967. He died in 1983 at Palma de Majorque. The Joan-Miró foundation was created in Barcelona in his honor in 1975. The collections of his works can be found at the Foundation Pilar and Joan Miró in Palma de Majorque, the National Museum of Modern Art of Paris, the Museum of Modern Art of Lille and that of New York.
Joan Miró
Photo Credit : © Carl van Vechten