Joan Miro (1893-1983)
Joan Miró, born in Barcelona, Spain, became one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the 20th century. He pioneered the transformation of the two-dimensional picture plane into a receptacle of personal dreams and imagery, characterized by the suppression of descriptive detail. As a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, muralist, and printmaker, he created a visual vocabulary unique in the 20th century and had an enormous impact on the course of modern art. Miró was a brilliantly innovative artist who absorbed and then went beyond the major art movements of his formative years – Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. Speaking of his desire to break the already entrenched canons of Modernism, he boldly stated in 1927, “I want to assassinate painting.”
Miró was strongly influenced by his Catalan heritage from the primary colors of local Romanesque frescoes to the curving, undulating lines and organic forms of Gaudi’s architecture. After moving to Paris in the 1920 he was strongly influenced by the Surrealists, in particular the concepts of automatism (allowing the subconscious to dictate forms) and the exploitation of accidents. His work of the 1920s and 1930s thrust him to the forefront of the Surrealist movement. He revered and was most influenced by the Surrealist poets, including Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Tristan Tzara, becoming close friends with many and later collaborating with them on many artists’ books, for which he contributed the illustrations to their poetry.
His interest in printmaking went beyond the books and he worked extensively in etching, aquatint, and lithography on small and large-scale works throughout his career. In 1967, he was introduced to Carborundum by renowned master printmaker, Robert Dutrou, which began a rich period of prolific and brilliant printmaking, to which he devoted the majority of his final years. His vision of vast conceptual spaces populated by strange, playful organisms is a world that exists only in the dreams and desires of the imagination. His masterful use of color, his creation of a pictorial language, and ultimately his achievement of an art in which emotion and form had become identical, are unique amoung the 20th century masters.