Joan Miró 1893–1983
Joan Miró was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1893. Although his parents wanted their son to be a businessman, Miró was drawn to art, and so he studied painting at Francesc Galí’s Escola d’Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915. In 1920, Miró moved to Paris where he was quickly caught up in the fiercely cultural atmosphere. He struck up a friendship with fellow expat Pablo Picasso, who took Miró under his wing and introduced him to many of the artists and writers living in the city. Miró soon became friends with Ernest Hemmingway, who bought his masterpiece The Farm in 1921. Famed surrealist poet Andre Breton and Miró met in 1924 and Breton felt that Miró’s artwork “was the most surrealist of all.”
Despite his association with the Surrealist movement, Miró’s painting process was far from unconscious; rather, his work resulted from a precise methodology. Combining the formal elements of cubism with biomorphic forms, Miró created works that referenced his home country of Spain through abstraction. After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, his work began to display sharply political messages. His mural, The Reaper, condemned Franco's regime and was shown at the Spanish Pavilion in the World’s Fair of 1937 in Paris. In 1939 when the Nazis arrived in Paris, Miró was forced to flee to the South of France. The first retrospective of Miró’s work in the United States was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1941. In 1958, Miró was commissioned to make two significant murals for UNESCO in Paris, for which he received the Guggenheim International Award. Inspired by the Paris student riots of 1968, Miró began to create bombastic paintings in which he would fling paint onto the canvas. During the 1970s, he became intrigued with the process of bookmaking, and he created over 250 illustrated artist’s books. Miró died in 1983, but he left behind a influential legacy and is one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century.