As we continue to delve into the great abstract artists of the 20th century we cannot overlook the influential and highly esteemed Joan Miro, whose work in painting, sculpting, ceramics, printmaking, and even stained glass makes him one of the most prolific and long-lived artists of his time. Miro’s experimentation makes it impossible to confine him to one art form or style. He was a leader in Surrealism, and his abstract work showcased dreamy and spontaneous forms floating through realms of color. His obsession with semi non-objective shapes and symbolism can be seen through his multiple media, from drawings to bronze installations.

Joan Miro was born in April 20, 1893, near Barcelona. His interest in art came at an early age and some of his earliest work can be traced back to 8 years old. From 1907 to 1911 he attended the School of Fine Art in Barcelona, but after a battle with typhus in 1911 he recuperated at his family holiday home in Montroig, where his interest in the arts really skyrocketed.

In 1919 Miro visited Paris and became friends with fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso who got him involved in Cubism and the new Dada movement which expressed mockery of materialism and nationalism following World War I. From there Miro began spending his winters in Paris and his summers in Montroig. Throughout this time he became a pioneer in Surrealism and participated in multiple Surrealists groups and exhibitions. His true contribution to the movement was his development of automatic drawing as a distancing from established painting techniques. He returned to Barcelona in the wake of World War II and began exploring his interests in printmaking, sparked by his desire to make his art as accessible as possible. 20057

Joan Miro’s work is characterized by his focus on the symbol and message of his works rather than a general theme, an approach he took to the entire art world and the various mediums he worked with. His style cannot be specifically classified as abstract or non-objective as he focused on disassembling traditional art forms and representations, which made him a critical leader in the avant-garde journey towards complete abstraction. An example of this can be seen in the piece Miro Graveur Vol. 2 (1979) (right), which resembles a human form in a non-traditional, abstract way.

As a testament to his success the Joan Miro Foundation Center of Contemporary Arts was opened in 1976 in Barcelona and he was named the Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona four years later. Internationally, he staged major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York during the late 1950s and designed a tapestry at the World Trade Center that was destroyed during the attack of the Twin Towers in 2001. In 1980 Miro received the Gold Medal of Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos of Spain and passed away 3 years later on Christmas Day at the age of 90.

Joan Miro’s work can still be seen in galleries and museums across the world, including here at Baterbys where some of his original lithographs are available for purchase. Stop in for a visit and appreciate the entrancing and ethereal works of one of the founding fathers of abstract art.

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