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Joan Miró

Spanish Painter and Printmaker

Movements and Styles: Surrealism, Dada

Born: April 20, 1893 - Barcelona, Spain

Died: December 25, 1983 - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Joan Miró Timeline

Important Art by Joan Miró

The below artworks are the most important by Joan Miró - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

The Ear of Grain (1922)
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The Ear of Grain (1922)

Artwork description & Analysis: The Ear of Grain is an early work in which Miró demonstrates his close study of everyday objects. As a young artist, Miró was influenced by the painstaking, detailed realism of the Dutch Masters and by his academic training. The attention he gives to objects is reflected later in the care Miró takes with constructing the clean-edged, biomorphic forms of his trademark style.

Oil on canvas - The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Farm (1921)
Artwork Images

The Farm (1921)

Artwork description & Analysis: A dramatically tilted picture plane presents the viewer with a glimpse of a busy Spanish masia or "family farm." Miró wrote of this work, "The Farm was a résumé of my entire life in the country. I wanted to put everything I loved about the country into that canvas - from a huge tree to a tiny snail." The artist spent sometimes as many as eight hours a day for nine months working on this painting, for which he then struggled to find a buyer in a Parisian modern art market that preferred Cubism. In The Farm, Miró combines an interest in primitivism, perhaps harkening back to his attraction to Catalan folk art, and a Cubist vocabulary to produce a strangely haunting landscape that prefigures his Surrealist work. With an almost maniacal attention to detail, he carefully rendered objects are displayed against stark, monochromatic expanses of space makes for an unsettling contrast. Flattened forms exist side-by-side with carefully rendered and modeled objects, a testament to the influence of Cézanne and the Cubists.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

The Tilled Field (1923)
Artwork Images

The Tilled Field (1923)

Artwork description & Analysis: Populated with complex, often inscrutable forms, The Tilled Field, with its puzzling iconography, is an abstract depiction of the landscape of Miró's Catalan homeland. The painting, teeming with organic forms that merge and meld seemingly in defiance of nature, is a testament to Miró's ever-increasing stylization and abstraction at this point in his career. The picture may be viewed as both an homage to Spain's past and a statement on the contemporary political upheaval in Europe. In works like this one, as well as works from the period leading up to and throughout World War II, Miro frequently expressed his own political sentiments. The painting also emphasizes how extremely radical Miró's departure was from his previous, naturalist style once he arrived in Paris and was exposed to the avant-garde art of that city where innovation thrived.

Oil on canvas - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Maternity (1924)
Artwork Images

Maternity (1924)

Artwork description & Analysis: The composition of Maternity is very schematic: reduced to its simplest forms, the female figure is scarcely recognizable in this painting. With one breast in profile and the other frontally depicted, almost moon-like, she nurses two stick-figure children as they hover in mid-air. Miró's interest in abstraction and the bizarre is evident as he takes the traditional motif of Mother and Child and eliminates any element of realism. However, with the title, Maternity, Miró suggests that what remains after stripping away excess representation are the instinctual and emotional aspects of the relationship between mother and child that may not be evident in more naturalistic depictions.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Scotland

The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers (1941)
Artwork Images

The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers (1941)

Artwork description & Analysis: In the Constellations series of 1940-41, Miró set about to create new challenges, and figure out new solutions, to his compositions. The The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers, features a reduced palette, including a solid background that emphasizes the simplified forms and lines that together mimic the appearance of a complex constellation in the night sky. In the midst of producing this series, Miró was forced to flee with his family from France to Mallorca to escape advancing German troops. Evidently the family took little else with them aside from these paintings. The crowded, chaotic feeling of these compositions in some ways echo Miró's feelings regarding the violent upheaval in Europe at the time.

Gouache, charcoal, and oil wash on paper - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Lunar Bird (1946-49)
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Lunar Bird (1946-49)

Artwork description & Analysis: Miró's experimentation with multiple media led him into the third dimension, where one of his most favored materials became bronze. The principle of mystical oppositions underlines much of Miró's Surrealist sculpture, including Lunar Bird. With this work, the sun and the moon, male and female, and night and day are both contradictory and complementary forces. The work resembles ancient votive statues and is highly polished so that despite its dark, solid appearance, it becomes paradoxically reflective. Lighter, curving elements lift the ensemble of shapes upward while a solid, sturdy base, like the legs of a primal mother, roots the sculpture firmly to the earth. Bereft of color, unlike the artist's later sculptures, Lunar Bird relies on alternating, contrasting shapes to bring the object to life.

Bronze - Fundació Joan Miró

Woman and Bird (1967)
Artwork Images

Woman and Bird (1967)

Artwork description & Analysis: Highly polished surfaces and unusual patinas added to the intrigue of his Surrealist sculptures such as Lunar Bird (above). By the 1960s, he was combining the bright colors he favored in his painting with the solidity of bronze sculpture. Here, Miró expands the visual space of the work, inviting the viewer to interact in a directly physical way and to inhabit the space of these symbolic figures. The artist is also working on a larger scale-roughly 4' tall and 3' wide-and thus the figures lose their mysterious intimacy and become more interactive and, in a sense, accessible.

Bronze, polychrome - Fundació Joan Miró

Woman and Bird (1982)
Artwork Images

Woman and Bird (1982)

Artwork description & Analysis: This monumental sculpture, standing 66 feet tall, was part of Barcelona's public art initiative and is considered Miró's last great work. Assisted by a team of craftsmen, Woman and Bird was built of concrete and colorful, broken ceramic tile; its irregular contours and tile mosaic were in part an homage to the great architect Antonio Gaudi, whom Miró admired and studied with at the Cercle Artistic de Sant Lluc. The sculpture is situated at the corner of a large reflecting pool in the Parc de Joan Miró, which is populated with 30 other sculptures by the artist. The massive figure of a woman on whose head perches a bright yellow bird is evocative of the colossal sculptures that guarded the ports of ancient Greek cities and presided over their most hallowed sites.

Oil on canvas - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York



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Related Art and Artists

I and the Village (1911)
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I and the Village (1911)

Artist: Marc Chagall

Artwork description & Analysis: This early work clearly shows both the Cubist and Fauvist influences at play in Chagall's canvas, yet unlike the works of Picasso or Matisse, Chagall is far more playful and liberal with decorative elements, creating a pastoral paradise out of the Russian countryside. It is an early sign of the approach that would make the artist famous and influential: a blend of the modern and the figurative, with a light, whimsical tone. Chagall depicts a fairy tale in which a cow dreams of a milk maid and a man and wife (one upright,one upside down) frolic in the work fields. Abstraction is at the heart of this work, but it exists to decorate the picture rather than invite analysis of the images.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Starry Night (1889)

Starry Night (1889)

Artist: Vincent van Gogh

Artwork description & Analysis: Starry Night is often considered to be Van Gogh's pinnacle achievement. Unlike most of his works, Starry Night was painted from memory, and not out in the landscape. The emphasis on interior, emotional life is clear in his swirling, tumultuous depiction of the sky - a radical departure from his previous, more naturalistic landscapes. Here, Van Gogh followed a strict principal of structure and composition in which the forms are distributed across the surface of the canvas in an exact order to create balance and tension amidst the swirling torsion of the cypress trees and the night sky. The result is a landscape rendered through curves and lines, its seeming chaos subverted by a rigorous formal arrangement. Evocative of the spirituality Van Gogh found in nature, Starry Night is famous for advancing the act of painting beyond the representation of the physical world.

Oil on canvas - The Museum of Modern Art

Composition VIII (1923)

Composition VIII (1923)

Artist: Wassily Kandinsky

Artwork description & Analysis: The rational, geometric order of Composition VIII is a polar opposite of the operatic composition of Composition VII (1913). Painted while he taught at the Bauhaus, this work illustrates how Kandinsky synthesized elements from Suprematism, Constructivism, and the school's own ethos. By combining aspects of all three movements, he arrived at the flat planes of color and the clear, linear quality seen in this work. Form, as opposed to color, structured the painting in a dynamic balance that pulses throughout the canvas. This work is an expression of Kandinsky's clarified ideas about modern, non-objective art, particularly the significance of shapes like triangles, circles, and the checkerboard. Kandinsky relied upon a hard-edged style to communicate the deeper content of his work for the rest of his career.

Oil on canvas - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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