Starting out in business school would not appear to be the most obvious career path for an artist but that is what Joan Miró did.
Miró was born in Barcelona in 1893 and began his business studies at the tender age of fourteen. However, his love of art meant that he also attended art school, the La Lonja’s Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales y Bellas Artes. After completing his studies, he began work as a clerk but went on to suffer what is believed to have been a nervous breakdown.
Whilst this meant the end of his business career, it was just the beginning of an art career that covered Surrealism, collages, sculpture and ceramics.
Miró made his first trip to the artist’s Mecca, Paris, in 1920 where he met Pablo Picasso. He also met poets and other artists who all influenced his work. His first solo exhibition was at the Galerie la Licorne in Paris which was held in 1923. He travelled to the Netherlands and was entranced with the works by the Dutch Masters that he saw there, encouraging him to start a series of paintings influenced by what he had seen.His early works include ‘The Farm’ on show in the National gallery of Art in Washington DC and ‘The Tilled Field’ displayed at the Guggenheim.
It took him until 1930 to develop his own style using bright colours and very simple forms, often turning to his Catalan roots for folk art influences. It was at this time that his work became recognised on the international stage. In 1934 his work was exhibited in France and in the United States.
Spanish Civil War
With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Miró was forced to leave his homeland and move his wife, Pilar and daughter, Dolores, to Paris. They were still there when the Second World War forced them to flee again, this time to the Spanish island of Mallorca. His work from this time shows the effect of war on him, with increasingly violent images. An example is ‘Still Life With Old Shoe’ full of dark shadows and violent images such as the six-tined fork stabbing into a rotting apple. He also began to create sculptures in the Surrealist style.
After the War
In 1944, Miró began working in ceramics. He was commisioned to produce murals for the UNESCO building in Paris, for which he won an award and, and in Cincinnati in the USA. His work in the United States inspired new artists there to form a group known as the ‘Abstract Expressionists’.
The 1950’s and ’60’s saw Miró working his hardest as he divided his time between Spain and France. He was working on a much larger scale, both with his paintings and his ceramic pieces. He created colouful sculptures such as ‘Personnage’ created in 1967 and on display at the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. The piece is in bronze but painted in vivid primary colours. He continued to work at full tilt receiving a commision to create a tapestry for the World Trade Centre in New York and many awards and accolades. His final piece is a large public sculpture called ‘Woman and Bird’, on display in his native city of Barcelona, which he finished a year before his death on Christmas Day in 1983.