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As a man who doggedly and persistently committed himself to experimentation and non-objectivity, and as someone who was heavily influenced by the Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism movements, Miró lent his genius to several genres and forms, like ceramics, engravings and sculptures all with a strange, idiosyncrasy that is truly his own. His influence was heavily felt with the other so-called Color Field painters, such as Pollock, and his message and imagery reverberate to the current age.
Joan Miró Ferrá was born on April 20th, 1893 in Barcelona. His family trade was goldsmithing and watchmaking and Miró was enlisted in drawing classes at the age of seven at a local private school. He enrolled in the fine art academy at La Llotja in 1907, much to the dismay of his parents, and studied at the Cercle Artistic de Sant Lluc. He enjoyed his first solo show in 1918 at the Dalmau gallery, but his work was ridiculed and defaced by harsh critics. Inspired by the Surrealist and Cubist exhibitions abroad, he was drawn towards the art community that was gathering in Montparnasse and moved to Paris to become more integrated with the pulse of the Art Scene in 1920.
In 1924, Joan Miró joined the Surrealist group. The symbolic and poetic nature of the work that Miró had already been utilizing as well as the dualities and contradictions contained within his pieces already caused a great ideological fit with the group and fit with within their beliefs. During this time, he produced some of his most influential work, such as The Tilled Field in 1923.
In 1934, Joan Miró’s work began to be exhibited in France and by 1941, Miró was forced to flee his home when war broke out across Europe. He travelled to Mallorca where he stayed with his family.
During this time, Joan Miró’s renown was growing in America, and his work was being showcase in New York at the MoMA. Cincinnati commissioned a large-scale mural from him in 1947, and this cross-pollination of artistic visions influenced a generation of American Abstract Expressionists in Miró’s wake.
The Tilled Field (1923), a brilliant piece of work populated entirely with indecipherable, complex forms serves as an interesting showcase of the land of his birth – Catalonia. His abstract depiction of his homeland jolt the viewer out of the readily available ease of reality and turn a pastoral countryside into an almost nightmarish landscape of blacks and harsh angles. The painting is almost a sarcastic parody of nature itself, with its recognizable forms becoming warped, distorted and merged within each other. It has been seen both as an homage to Spain’s history and also a statement on the political upheaval in Europe at the time. Like many other artists at the time, Joan Miró used his art frequently to express his political views, and this painting symbolizes how utterly radical the departure from his previous works this painting truly is.
Maternity (1924) almost directly contrasts his efforts with The Tilled Field in a way that essentializes and reduces the complexity of femininity down to simplistic forms. A female figure showcased in the painting ‘s hard to recognize at first, but is unmistakably prominent in the placement of the image, with very scant, abstract details providing the information our brain needs to comprehend what we see: some wavy lines for hair, large thighs, and hips, a bull’s-eye mark where the womb would be. This figure is underneath what can only be seen underneath more significant female figure, who is giving it suck. Miró clearly suggests the impacts of Maternity and femininity and has it resound with us on an instinctual level, as opposed to giving flesh and realism to the forms, which would distract from the aim of the piece. The purity of motherhood is paramount in this image.
Joan Miró continued to receive accolades and public support as he aged, and in 1974 he was commissioned to create a tapestry piece for the World Trade Center in New York. In 1983, Miró died in his home a year after he completed his sculpture Woman and Bird for his home city of Barcelona. Even unto his death, Miró toiled for his art, and he was well rewarded for it.
Joan Miró continually explored the possibility of creating a new form of visual message that could exist outside the substantive world. Like other surrealists, his focus on the abstract instead of the real led to breathtaking and beautiful imagery that lodges itself in our minds to this very day. This rejection of naturalism is indicative of other Surreal and Dada artists like Jean Arp and Yves Tanguy and solidifies Miró as a true pioneer in the realm of abstract art. Musart has a special love for the Surrealists and Miró is absolutely no exception – it is a great pleasure to feature Miró’s works and further proliferate his artistic vision.