Joan Miro (1893-1983)
“I invent nothing, it’s all there”
Symbolic and fantastical, the art of Joan Miró is instantly recognisable by the use of brilliant pure colour and playful juxtaposition of delicate lines with abstract, often amoebic shapes. Drawing on sources as varied as fauvism, cubism, primitivism, and Catalan folk art Miró produced masterpieces of a quality rarely achieved. Miró’s work combines both an obsession with the documentation of visual reality in all its detail, and the abstract expression of his subconscious originally influenced by the French surrealist movement.
Born the son of a Catalan goldsmith and jewellery maker, Joan Miró studied at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts and the Academia Galí. Despite receiving little encouragement from his parents, Miró was a prolific and determined artist who experimented in all mediums throughout his life, and whose dedication to his art has made him a classic master.
Miró’s work before 1920 shows wide-ranging influences, from the bright colours of the Fauves, the broken forms of Cubism, and the flat two-dimensionality of Catalan folk art and Spanish Romanesque church frescoes.
After 1920 Miró began to visit Paris, and in 1921 he moved there to avoid the Spanish Civil War, returning to Spain in 1940. In Paris Miró met, and was influenced by, Pablo Picasso, as well as Surrealist writers and poets – Andre Breton, Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Michel Leiris, and others.
Throughout his career Miró moved frequently between Paris and his native Catalonia embracing, and at the same time rejecting, two very different lifestyles. This constant movement and tension is reflected in Miró’s work and was a fundamental part of his artistic inspiration.
Miró was a very prolific artist and made at least 2,000 oil paintings, 500 sculptures, 400 ceramic objects, and 5,000 drawings during his 90 years. He also created a further 3,500 images using lithography, etching, and other graphic techniques, most of which were published in editions of 50 to 75, all of them containing an expression of his Catalan roots.