Miro, Joan

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

The Spanish painter Joan Miró is recognized worldwide as one of the most distinguished artists of the surrealist movement. He was born on April 20, 1893, in the Catalonian town of Montroig, near Barcelona. At the age of 14, he studied at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts.

Miró's earliest works were clearly realistic. But in his 20's he visited Paris and became acquainted with such innovative artists as Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst. By 1924, Miró had developed a distinctly unrealistic style. It was reminiscent of primitive cave drawings or the humorous drawings of young children. Indeed, he generally painted bold, abstract shapes and loved bright colors and strong color contrasts. His works consist of playful fantasy forms that seem to originate in the unconscious imagination or in dreams.

In 1925, Miró participated in the first surrealist exhibition in Paris. In 1928 he held his first exhibition in New York City. During the 1930's, he designed ballet settings and costumes. After the close of World War II, he spent considerable time in Paris. He undertook major projects in sculpture, ceramics, weaving, and mural painting. He also produced several handsome sets of original color prints.

One of Miró's most impressive works consists of two ceramic walls located outside the UNESCO building in Paris. One of the walls is titled Wall of the Sun. The other is the Wall of the Moon. These were completed in 1958 in collaboration with José Artigas. Artigas was a noted ceramist whom Miró had met many years earlier. In 1978, Miró designed a large-scale tapestry for the court garden of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Miró died on December 25, 1983, at the age of 90, at his home in Palma, Spain.

Howard E. Wooden
Director Emeritus, The Wichita Art Museum

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