Joan Miró was born in Spain in 1893 to a family of craftsmen. Young Miró had an affinity toward drawing and was not particularly inclined to academia. In 1907, 14-year-old Miró enrolled in business school at his parents’ wishes while concurrently studying fine art at La Lonja’s Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales y Bellas Artes. He completed his studies and became an accounting clerk but quit in two years after suffering from a nervous breakdown.
Miró’s parents bought an estate for him to regain his footing at Montroig, and in 1912 they allowed him to resume his art studies in Barcelona. He learned how to portray spatial qualities of objects by touching them before drawing. He was also exposed to modern art from Paris.
From 1915-1919, Joan Miró worked around Spain. He created landscapes, portraits, and nudes, experimenting with Fauvist colors and Cubist forms. From early in his career, Miró sought to incorporate his love of poetry into his painted works. His Catalan identity also was important in his painting. His first gallery show in 1918 was a disaster; critics and the public both vocally disliked it and not one painting sold.
Disappointed and looking for a more receptive artistic world, Miró left for Paris in 1920. He split his time between Paris and Montroig, painting prolifically while encountering and forming friendships with modern artists such as Pablo Picasso and André Masson. Financial hardship made Parisian living difficult. His “dream paintings”, fields of blue with linear forms and opaque shapes, were described by the artist as hunger-induced hallucinations.
During this time, Miró also grew close to Dada and Surrealist artists, forming a lifelong friendship with poet and Surrealist spokesperson André Breton. His solo shows in Paris were better received. Miró began experimenting with collage, lithography, etchings, and sculpture in the late 1920s. His sculptures featured found objects and painted stones.
In the late 1930s, Miró left Spain as the civil war erupted and from 1939-1941 Miró left France as the German invaded. His Constellations series was inspired by this time in hiding in Mallorca with his wife and daughter. In 1941, his first retrospective was held at MoMA in New York City. In 1944, Miró began working with ceramics and prints, working almost exclusively in these mediums from 1954-58.
Joan Miró’s works are recognizable by thematic symbols of women, stars, and birds. His works were ironic portrayals of figures, decidedly Surrealist despite him preferring not to take on a label. His later works, from the 1950s, were more spontaneous and larger scale. In the years after World War II, Miró became internationally famous and his works were shown in exhibitions across the globe. Through the 1960s, he primarily created sculptures.
In 1978, the Musée National d’Art Moderne exhibited over 500 of Miró’s works in a major retrospective. His artistic oeuvre contains a vast number of works in a huge variety of mediums. Following his death in 1983, new generations of artists have been inspired from the Abstract
Expressionist work to the experimental art that can be found at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona.