Joan Miró was an influential Spanish painter during the 20th century.
Born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893, he studied first at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts and later at the Academia Galí.
His early works showcase a catholic range of stylistic influences — the vivid colors of Fauvism, fractured forms and Cubist perspective, and the flatness of the Catalan folk arts and Spanish Romanesque frescoes.
In 1920, he moved to Paris and quickly became a denizen of the artistic community in Montparnasse. There the circles of Surrealist poets and writers gradually came to exert an influence on the development of his mature style.
Drawing on themes of memory, fantasy, and irrationality, Miró produced paintings that resembled visual equivalents of Surrealist poetry — reveries with a sense of humor and whimsy, depicting warped animal motifs, twisted organic forms, and bizarre geometric assemblages. A typical Miró work from this period would feature amorphous shapes akin to protozoa, interspersed with seemingly random groups of sharp, crisp lines, dots, and squiggles.
During World War II, Miro fled France for Spain. There, he worked on a series of 23 gouaches, titled Constellations, which earned him the praise of Andre Breton for its symbolism. The painting included the Moon, birds, and women, three subjects that would return in his iconography for the rest of his career.
Subsequently, Miró produced a series of ethereal works, whittling his biomorphic figures down to minimal abstractions and austere streaks of color. He experimented with etchings and lithography, producing two massive ceramic wall murals installed at the UNESCO building in Paris (Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun, 1957-59).
The late 1960s marked the start of Miró's final artistic period. He shifted his focus towards monumental pieces often displayed in public spaces. The bodily language found in his canvases, the attention paid to material, and the influence of the Art Informel movement in France, which eschewed representation of form, are evident in these works.
Instead of privileging the representation of some theme, Miro’s interest centered on the symbol and the ways it could be evoked in his work.
In 1976, the Joan Miró Foundation Center of Contemporary Art Study officially opened in Barcelona. In 1979, four years before his death, the University of Barcelona named him Doctor Honoris Causa.
Miró died in Majorca, Spain, on December 25, 1983.
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