Joan Miro, Spanish (1893-1983)

Joan Miro Ferra was born April 20, 1893 in Barcelona. At the age of 14, he attended business school in Barcelona and La Lonja’s Escuela Superior de Artes and Industriales y Bellas Artes. Upon completing three years of business education, he took a position as a clerk. During this period, Miro suffered a nervous breakdown that made him reassess working in business. He decided to get back into the arts in which Miro received early encouragement from the dealer, José Dalmau. In 1918, Dalmau gave him his first solo show at his gallery in Barcelona.

In 1920, Miro made his first trip to Paris where he met Pablo Picasso. From this time, Miro divided his time between Paris and Montroig, Spain. In Paris, he associated with the poets Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy and Tristan Tzara, where he participated in Dada activities. Dalmau organized Miro’s first solo show in Paris at the Galerie la Licorne in 1921. His work was included in the Salon d’Automne of 1923. In 1924, Miró joined the Surrealist group. His solo show at the Galerie Pierre, Paris in 1925 was a major Surrealist event. Miro was included in the first Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre that same year. He visited the Netherlands in 1928 and began a series of paintings inspired by Dutch masters. That year he also executed his first papiers collés (pasted papers) and collages. In 1932, he started his experiments in lithography and his first etchings date from 1933. During the early 1930’s, he made Surrealist sculptures incorporating painted stones and found objects. In 1936, Miro left Spain because of the civil war; he returned in 1941. Also, in 1936, Miro was included in the exhibitions Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The following year he was commissioned to create a monumental work for the Paris World’s Fair.

In 1941, Miro’s first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1944, Miro began working in ceramics with Josep Lloréns y Artigas and started to concentrate on prints. From 1954 to 1958, he worked almost exclusively in these two mediums. He received the grand prize for graphic work at the Venice Biennale in 1954. His work was included in the first Documenta exhibition in Kassel the following year. In 1958, Miro was given a Guggenheim International Award for murals for the UNESCO building in Paris. The following year he resumed painting, initiating a series of mural-sized canvases. During the 1960’s, he began to work intensively in sculpture. Miro retrospectives took place at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris in 1962 and the Grand Palais, Paris in 1974. In 1978, the Musée National d’Art Moderne exhibited over five hundred works in a major retrospective of his drawings.

Miro passed away on December 25, 1983, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.