Joan Miró
Year, Birthplace 1893, Spain
Year, Place of death 1983, Spain
In 1907, at his father’s insistence, Miró entered the Barcelona School of Commerce, but was mainly interested in painting and attended some classes at the Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales y Bellas Artes. In 1912, he finally left his job with a firm to enrol in the Escuela de Arte de Francesc Galí, which he attended until 1915. He met the ceramicist Llorens Artigas, made friends with Joan Prats and discovered cubist painting at an exhibition in Barcelona and through Parisian avant-garde magazines. In 1916, he made the acquaintance of the art dealer Josep Dalmau, who was interested in his work. His first solo exhibition, which took place at the Galerie Dalmau in Barcelona in 1918, was a painful failure. His style, at that stage, was positioned close to fauvism (until 1914), later evolving into cubism. In 1920, he visited Paris, where his dealer tried to organise an exhibition for him. There, he met his compatriot Pablo Picasso, who was twelve years his senior. After a winter on the family farm in Montroig, to the south of Barcelona, which he would regularly revisit, he returned to Paris in 1921 and rented the former studio of Catalan sculptor Pablo Gargallo at no. 45 rue Blomet. There, he established a relationship with his neighbour, André Masson. His first Parisian solo exhibition, organised by Josep Dalmau again, took place that year at the Galerie La Licorne, featuring an introductory text by Maurice Raynal. He went through a period of extreme misery, but made countless contacts, among them Roland Tual, Michel Leiris, Antonin Artaud, Robert Desnos, Jean Dubuffet, Paul Éluard, Marcel Jouhandeau, Max Jacob, Georges Limbour, Raymond Queneau and Armand Salacrou. He also met Ernest Hemingway, who purchased his work La Masía [The Farm], and Ezra Pound. At that time, he painted scenes from the family farm, which had an atmosphere of naivety and showed geometrised shapes. André Breton visited his studio in 1925, the year of his solo exhibition at the Pierre Loeb gallery in Paris, introduced by Benjamin Péret, which achieved some success. In November, he participated in an exhibition of surrealist painting at the same gallery, and in the subsequent group activities (among them, the famous banquet in honour of Saint-Pol-Roux). He later moved to a new studio in the Cité des Fusains, where he counted as neighbours Max Ernst, Hans Arp and, probably, Paul Éluard and Camille Goemans. In 1926, he collaborated with Ernst on the sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes’ Romeo and Juliet, by Sergei Diaghilev. From the 1930s, he benefited from a certain level of recognition, holding various solo exhibitions in Paris and a first solo exhibition in New York, at the Valentine Gallery, followed by another in 1932 at the Pierre Matisse gallery, which would become, from that day on, his representative in the United States. Miró, who by now produced collages, etchings and object-sculptures, working on sandpaper, copper and fibrocement, spent more and more time in Barcelona. In 1933, he made etchings to illustrate the book Enfances, by Georges Hugnet. During the Spanish civil war, he remained in Paris and created a large decorative mural, El Segador [The Reaper] – a Catalan peasant in revolt – for the Spanish Republic’s pavilion (designed by his friend Josep Lluis Sert) at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris (a work which is now destroyed). In 1939, he abandoned Paris, first for Normandy, then for Palma de Majorca in the Balearic Islands, where he produced the Constellations series and, finally, Barcelona, in 1942. His first retrospective was held in MoMA in New York in 1941. In 1944, he started producing ceramic pieces with his friend Artigas, and, later, in 1946, bronzes. In 1947 he made his first trip to the United States, where he had a significant reputation, in order to decorate the Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati. In 1948, the year of his return to Paris, he exhibited at the Galerie Maeght, with Aimé Maeght becoming his dealer in France. The following years were filled with commissions for decorative murals and monumental sculptures (Harvard University, 1950; UNESCO, Paris, 1958; Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1964; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1967...), retrospectives (Basel, 1952; New York and Los Angeles, 1959; Paris, 1962; London and Zurich, 1964; Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Tokyo, 1966...) and acclaim (International Grand Prize for Etching at the 1954 Venice Biennale; Guggenheim Prize in 1959; Carnegie International Grand Prize in 1967...). From 1954, he was mainly resident in Palma de Majorca, where his friend Sert built him a house. The Spanish government criticised his republican support and Miró would have to wait until the age of 75 for his first official exhibition in Spain, which took place in Barcelona in 1968. The artist refused to attend the opening in order to avoid meeting ministers of Franco’s government. With the end of Francoism, Miró revealed a desire to donate his studio to the city. In 1972, the decision was taken to create a foundation in Barcelona, which would be built to Sert’s design and would open its doors in 1975. AC