Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Widely considered one of the leading Surrealists, Joan Miró pioneered an idiosyncratic style that channeled the unconscious mind. He used color and form in a symbolic rather than literal manner, his intricate compositions combining abstract elements with recurring motifs like birds, eyes, and the moon in paintings, sculptures and ceramics.


Born in Barcelona in 1893, Miró devoted himself to painting at a young age, first studying at the Galí art school in Barcelona. In 1920, he settled in the avant-garde center of Europe: Paris. Here, he soon became interested in the activities of the Paris Dadaists, though his art of this time remained rooted in the traditions and iconography of Catalan culture. His first, breakthrough work was The Farm from 1921-1922 (later owned by Ernest Hemingway). Over the following years, he befriended many of the leading members of the nascent Surrealist group, including André Breton, Paul Eluard, and Louis Aragon, and he shared a studio with André Masson, whose technique of automatic writing was an important influence. Soon, he left behind the detailed realism of his earlier work, and, under the influence of Surrealism, developed a unique abstract combination of color and sign in what are known as the ‘Dream paintings.’

Renowned for utilizing a range of media, Miró experimented with lithography, collage, and, following the Second World War, became a prolific ceramicist and sculptor. His unique vision informed every aspect of his prolific art; the poetic, fantastical language he forged the defining feature of his varied oeuvre. His work influenced subsequent generations of artists, most notably the Abstract Expressionists.


Miró’s first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1941. Subsequent retrospectives have been held across the world, including at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1962); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1993), and Tate Modern, London (2011). His work can be found in museum collections in Europe, the United States, and beyond.


Joan Miró died on December 25, 1983 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.