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Joan Miró

Spanish Painter and Printmaker

Joan Miró Photo
Movements and Styles: Surrealism, Biomorphism, Color Field Painting

Born: April 20, 1893 - Barcelona, Spain

Died: December 25, 1983 - Palma de Mallorca, Spain

"The joy of achieving in a landscape a perfect comprehension of a blade of grass.. as beautiful as a tree or a mountain.. What most of all interests me is the calligraphy of the tiles on a roof or that of a tree scanned leaf by leaf, branch by branch."

Joan Miró Signature

Summary of Joan Miró

Persistent experimentation and a lifelong flirtation with non-objectivity stamped Joan Miró's magnificent mark on the art world. His canvas represented a sandbox for his subconscious mind, out from which sprang a vigorous lust for the childlike and a manifestation of his Catalan pride. His signature pictorial signs, biomorphic forms, geometric shapes, and abstracted and semi-abstracted objects helped inform a relentlessly original oeuvre in multiple media from ceramics and engravings to large bronze installations. His radically, inventive style was a critical contributor to the early-20th-century avant-garde's journey toward increasing and then complete abstraction. Although Miró has been associated with early Surrealism and has had an influence on Abstract Expressionists and Color Field painters, he remains one of modern art's greatest mavericks with a visual vocabulary unmistakably his own.

Key Ideas

Via his own Surrealism-inspired exploration, Miró invented a new kind of pictorial space in which carefully rendered objects issuing strictly from the artist's imagination became juxtaposed with basic, recognizable forms. His use of interior emotion to drive abstract expression would become a great influence on the Abstract Expressionists.
Even though he pared his forms to abstract schematics or pictorial signs and gestures Miró's art never settled into complete non-objectivity. Rather, he devoted his career to exploring various means by which to dismantle traditional precepts of representation.
Miró balanced the kind of spontaneity and automatism encouraged by the Surrealists with meticulous planning and rendering to achieve finished works that, because of their precision, seemed plausibly representational despite their considerable level of abstraction.
Miró often worked with a limited palette, yet the colors he used were bold and expressive. His chromatic explorations, which emphasized the potential of fields of unblended color to respond to one another, as well as his flat backgrounds with mild gradations of color, were valuable resources, providing inspiration for Color Field painters such as Helen Frankenthaler.
Miró was a modern renegade who refused to limit himself to visual exploration in a single medium. While he explored certain themes such as that of Mother and Child repeatedly throughout his long career, he did so in a variety of media from painting and printmaking to sculpture and ceramics, often achieving surprising and disparate results.
Joan Miró in his Barcelona studio (1955)

Though he lived a quiet life, rooted in Spain, Miró's was fiercely independent, at a 1978 exhibition he exclaimed, "I painted these paintings in a frenzy, with real violence so that people will know that I am alive, that I'm breathing, that I still have a few more places to go. I'm heading in new directions." He was 85.

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