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Artists Joan Miró
Joan Miró Photo

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


"Never, never do I set to work on a canvas in the state it comes in from the shop. I provoke accidents - a form, a splotch of color. Any accident is good enough. I let the matiere decide. Then I prepare a ground by, for example, wiping my brushes on the canvas. Letting fall some drops of turpentine on it would do just as well. If I want to make a drawing I crumple the sheet of paper or I wet it; the flowing water traces a line and this line may suggest what is to come next."
Joan Miró
"How can it be said that, given the fact that all the signs I transcribe upon the canvas correspond to something concrete - how can it be said that they back a foundation in reality, do not form part of the real world?"
Joan Miró
"For me, a picture should be like sparks. It must dazzle like the beauty of a woman or a poem. It must have radiance; it must be like those stones which Pyrenean shepherds use to light their pipes."
Joan Miró
"The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness."
Joan Miró
"As regards my means of expression, I try my hardest to achieve the maximum of clarity, power, and plastic aggressiveness; a physical sensation to begin with, followed up by an impact on the psyche."
Joan Miró
"In a picture, it should be possible to discover new things every time you see it. But you can look at a picture for a week together and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life."
Joan Miró
"How did I think up my drawings and my ideas for painting? Well I'd come home to my Paris studio in Rue Blomet at night, I'd go to bed, and sometimes I hadn't any supper. I saw things, and I jotted them down in a notebook. I saw shapes on the ceiling.."
Joan Miró

"The joy of achieving in a landscape a perfect comprehension of a blade of grass.. as beautiful as a tree or a mountain.. What most of all interests me is the calligraphy of the tiles on a roof or that of a tree scanned leaf by leaf, branch by branch."

Joan Miró Signature


Early in his career, Miró primarily painted still-lifes, landscapes, and genre scenes. Influences ranging from the folk art and Romanesque church frescoes of his native Catalan region in Spain to 17th-century Dutch realism were eventually superseded by more contemporary ones: Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism captivated the young artist, who had relocated to Paris in 1921. His exposure to the ideas of André Breton and Breton's Surrealist circle prompted Miró to make radical changes to his style, although the artist cannot be said to have identified consistently with a single school. Rather, his artistic career may be characterized as one of persistent experimentation and a lifelong flirtation with non-objectivity. Miró's signature biomorphic forms, geometric shapes, and semi-abstracted objects are expressed in multiple media, from ceramics and engravings to large bronze installations.

Key Ideas

Conducting his own Surrealism-inspired exploration, Miró invented a new kind of pictorial space in which carefully rendered objects issuing strictly from the artist's imagination are juxtaposed with basic, recognizable forms - a sickle moon, a simplified dog, a ladder. There is the sense that they have always coexisted both in the material realm and in the shallow pictorial space of Miró's art.
Miró's art never became fully non-objective. Rather than resorting to complete abstraction, the artist devoted his career to exploring various means by which to dismantle traditional precepts of representation. Miró's radical, inventive style was a critical contributor in the early-20th-century avant-garde journey toward increasing and then complete abstraction.
Miró balanced the kind of spontaneity and automatism encouraged by the Surrealists with meticulous planning and rendering to achieve finished works that, because of their precision, seemed plausibly representational despite their considerable level of abstraction.
Miró often worked with a limited palette, yet the colors he used were bold and expressive. His chromatic explorations, which emphasized the potential of fields of unblended color to respond to one another, provided inspiration for a generation of Color Field painters.
Artists have traditionally confined themselves to visual expression in a single medium with occasional forays into other materials. However, Miró was, in a sense, a modern renegade who refused to limit himself in this regard. While he explored certain themes such as that of Mother and Child repeatedly throughout his long career, Miró did so in a variety of media from painting and printmaking to sculpture and ceramics, often achieving surprising and disparate results.


Joan Miró Photo


Joan Miró was born in Spain in 1893 to a family of craftsmen. His father, Miguel, was a watchmaker and goldsmith, while his grandfathers were cabinetmakers and blacksmiths. Perhaps in keeping with his family's artistic trade, Miró exhibited a strong love of drawing at an early age; according to biographers, he was not particularly inclined toward academics. Rather, Miró pursued art-making and studied landscape and decorative art at the School of Industrial and Fine Arts (the Llotja) in Barcelona.

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Joan Miró Biography Continues

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)
Artwork Images

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

More Joan Miró Artwork and Analysis:

Maternity (1924) The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers (1941) Lunar Bird (1946-49) Woman and Bird (1967) Woman and Bird (1982)

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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Joan Miró
Interactive chart with Joan Miró's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart


Marc ChagallMarc Chagall
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
André MassonAndré Masson
Francis PicabiaFrancis Picabia

Personal Contacts



Influences on Artist
Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Years Worked: 1907 - 1983
Influenced by Artist


Robert MotherwellRobert Motherwell
Mark RothkoMark Rothko
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky
Helen FrankenthalerHelen Frankenthaler

Personal Contacts


Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting

Useful Resources on Joan Miró






The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.


Miró (Taschen 25th Anniversary) Recomended resource

By Walter Erben, Hajo Duchting

Joan Miró

By Rosa Maria Malet

Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937

By Jim Coddington, Robert Lubar, Anne Umland, Joan Miro

Joan Miró 1917-1934: I'm Going To Smash Their Guitar

By Agnes de la Beaumelle

More Interesting Books about Joan Miró
A Broad Look at Miró at London's Tate Modern

By Valerie Gladstone
The New York Times
April 12, 2011

Joan Miró: A Life in Paintings Recomended resource

By Tim Adams
The Guardian
March 19, 2011

Angry Young Man Recomended resource

By Peter Schjeldahl
The New Yorker
November 10, 2008

Miró, Serial Murderer of Artistic Conventions Recomended resource

By Holland Cotter
The New York Times
October 30, 2008

More Interesting Articles about Joan Miró
Tate Shots: Demond Morris on Miro Recomended resource

Tate Shots: Miro

Tate curators discuss the Miro retrospective at the museum
14 April - 11 September, 2011

Exhibition Preview: Miro Recomended resource

Visitors discuss Miro's 2011 Tate Museum exhibition

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Content compiled and written by Ashley Remer

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Ashley Remer
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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