Five Things You Should Know About Joan Miró

“I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.” – Joan Miró

His Family Wanted Him To Be A Businessman

Joan Miró, born Joan Miró i Ferra in 1893 in Barcelona, is today one of Spain’s most famous artists. He’s among the esteemed ranks of Picasso and Dalí in notoriety, but it wasn’t an easy start for Miró.

Though he came from artistic parentage, his father being a watchmaker and his mother a goldmsmith, his family wanted him to give up the art he’d shown a passion for as a child for the more stable allure of an office life. So Miró went to business school and at the age of 17, in 1910, he joined a hardware and chemical company, but secretly pursued art during this time, drawing in account books. His family were persistent he give up art entirely to concentrate on business, which lead to fights over the issue. The forced suppression of his creativity combined with the pressure from his family lead to a minor nervous breakdown, swiftly followed by a bout of typhoid fever to really drive home the message. It was received loud and clear by his parents, and after his illness they were convinced he was not designed for office work. In 1912 he joined the Gali Art Academy in Barcelona, and the rest is history.

He Made A Tapestry For The World Trade Centre Destroyed in 9/11

Joan Miró created with many different mediums: paint, bronze, clay and on this occasion embroidery. Originally, when offered to make a tapestry for the World Trade Centre, Miró declined as he had no experience making tapestry and would only be willing for the work to be made with his own hands. Soon after however, his daughter recovered from an accident in Spain and Miró decided to make a tapestry to say thank you to the hospital that had treated her.

He was taught by tapestry maker Josep Royo, and having made one for his daughter’s hospital, finally made one for the World Trade Centre, which was put on display in 1974 after being exhibited at a retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris. It remained on display at the World Trade Centre until the attacks of September 11th when  it became the most expensive work of art to be destroyed in the attacks.

He Made A Series Of Burnt Canvases

As Miró got older he began to experiment more than ever, in his later years with ‘anti-art’. Here he would paint a canvas and then perform a rigorous routine of cutting, burning, puncturing and treading on; essentially destroying the majority of the canvas but leaving behind curated holes and some of what had originally be painted, and what he had re-painted during the process. His 1973 series of paintings ‘Burnt Canvases’ are perfect depictions of ‘ant-art’. Miró was a deeply political throughout his life, which was at times evident in his art; this series, Miró wrote, had been inspired by a newspaper clipping he spotted of some youthful vandalism on the Madrid Stock Exchange.

He Is Considered A Pioneer of Surrealism

Like many fauves and cubists who were his contemporaries, Miró’s early art was influenced by the works of Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh. He had his first exhibition in 1918 in Barcelona, and shortly afterwards moved to Paris, which was to completely change his artistic life. While in Paris he continued with some paintings he had started at his parents summer home, including The Farm, which was the physical realization of the creative transition he was experiencing, but it wasn’t until he painted ‘The Tilled Field’ in 1923 he was classified as a ‘surrealist’.

However, as Miró was one of the first artists to employ the ‘automatic drawing technique’, which liberated artists from traditional drawing methods; many consider him to be one of the “pioneers of surrealism” with Andre Masson. He garnered many notable fans during his career, including Ernest Hemmingway, who said of his painting The Farm “It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there. No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things.”

His Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold Is…

Miró’s work regularly fetches millions, but his most expensive piece to date is ‘Pienture (Etoile Bleue)’, which in June 2012 sold for more than $37 million (£23.5 million) to an anonymous bidder at an auction at Sotheby’s in London. His next best selling piece is ‘Piece-Poem’ (1925) which sold for $26.6 million in February of the same year.

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