Joan Miro: The Outsider
By Melissa Montgomery
Cat Encircled by the Flight of a Bird
Joan Miro was born in Barcelona Spain to father in 1893. His father was a goldsmith and watchmaker. Joan’s parents wanted him to pursue a career in business but Joan insisted on attending the Barcelona School of Fine Arts. Upon graduating, his parents insisted he took business classes. He practiced as an accountant for two years until a nervous breakdown proved to him he was an artist.
He moved to Paris in 1920 without his parents’ support and became ensconced in the bustling activity that was the hallmark of Paris at that time. He was influenced by the style of cubism and of fauvism. He became friends with Picasso and became involved in the art community. In 1924 he met the surrealist Andre Breton and although Miro was mentored by him and his inner circle of friends; Miro steadfastly remained on the outside. This worked in his favor because Miro developed his own unique style of paintings that combined everything he had been exposed to : the shapes of cubism, the colors and representational features of fauvism and the eccentricity of surrealism. Joan often had little or no money and would lie in bed at night on an empty stomach and see shapes on the ceiling. He would sketch those shapes and that would be the outline for his unique paintings. The Tilled Field and Cat Encircled by the Flight of a Bird are two examples of this period in his life.
Joan was married in 1929 and started his family in 1931. He moved back to Spain and was beginning to enjoy an international reputation. His childlike but sophisticated paintings were truly unique. Although he was branded a surrealist, Joan Miro openly loathed labels and said in many interviews that they were only so that the bourgeois could enjoy art. To this end he has been quoted as saying, “I want to assassinate painting.”
The 1935 painting with rope on it-Rope and People- on cardboard with rope and using oil paints is an attempt to redefine what was acceptable is an example of how far ahead of his time Joan was. Colour, collage, disfigured shapes and the use of non-traditional materials became Joan Miro’s trademark. Being an outsider had served him well: he was making art that was unique.50s and did several large sculptures and window paintings and tapestries on buildings such as UNESCO and the World Trade Centre. Miro also made large public works of art in Chicago and in Kansas, at Wichita University. This last and perhaps most famous mural was started at the age of 79 and finished when Miro was 85. It is called Personage Oiseaux (bird characters). It is huge: thirty by fifty feet and made up of approximately 1 million pieces of Venetian glass and wood. Unfortunately, Miro was unable to be in Kansas for its debut; he had fallen at home in Palma de Majorca, Spain and he was bedridden.
Miro lived on the island of Palma de Majorca until his death in 1983. His studio has been turned into a museum where visitors can see where he lived and worked. Like Chagall and Picasso, Miro enjoyed both financial and artistic success- today his painting still fetch millions on the market and are part of permanent collections all over the world.
Miro Museum in Barcelona
Miro Museum Information and Biography