Joan Miró – a burst of creative force
The creative person is a disturbance in the universe of continuity.
Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in 1893 in Barcelona, to a family of craftsmen. Perhaps in keeping with his family’s artistic trade, Miró exhibited a strong love of drawing at an early age.
At the age of 18, during a long stay at his family’s country estate in Mont-roig, he decided to dedicate himself totally to painting and in 1912, Miró enrolled in an art academy in Barcelona. The school taught Miró about modern art movements in Western Europe and introduced him to contemporary Catalan poets. Miró was also encouraged to go out into the countryside in the midst of the landscapes he wished to paint and to study the artistic practices of his contemporaries.
In 1920 he arrived in Paris. At that moment his painting was still realistic and descriptive, mainly in the genres of landscape and still life.
Valuing more the intensity of colors and using some cubic shapes, at first his style was more close to Fauvism and Cubism and was singularly named “poetic realism”.
Ciuriana, the path, 1917 – an example of Fauvism style.
Standing nude, 1918 – with typical cubic elements.
His perception of the part and the crude state of objects and elements of nature was already present.
“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.”
This attention to the importance of the world of the objects was significantly present since the beginning, but evolved through the years.
“For me an object is something living. This cigarette or this box of matches contains a secret life much more intense than that of certain human beings.”
Head in the night, 1968 – this work from a later period shows his appreciation for the hidden meanings of simple objects.
“It is in sculpture that I’ll create a truly phantasmagoric world of living monsters.”
The contact with Surrealism
Some personal tendency to surrealism can already be seen since 1923, with “The Tilled Field” and the artist was greatly influenced by the ideas of André Breton and Breton’s surrealist circle.
The Tilled Field, 1923 – visible surrealist patterns.
After the publication of the “Surrealist Manifesto” in 1924, his first figures resembling graphic signs began to appear.
The head of a catalan peasant, 1925
“Despite rubbing shoulders with the artists of that avant-garde movement and sympathyzing with their ideas, Miró remained independent from the rules and theories of that and other artistic trends, pioneering his own path in search of total freedom in the composition of his works. This freedom is also reflected in his use of different supports and techniques: besides the paintings, drawings and prints made with a wide range of techiniques, the artist produced sculptures, tapestries and ceramics.” Tomie Ohtake Institute – Brazil, that recently presented the exposition “Joan Miró – A força da matéria.”
“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 material 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.”
“Even while becoming an universal artist, Miró never severed his bonds and identity with his place of origin, a combination of a vast heritage of popular and cultural tradition, obtained from the experiences he had in the countryside. Without them, it would have been difficult for him to imbue his sculptures with their profound meanings and the universal values evinced by the most recurrent themes in his work – the woman, the stars, the birds.
All of the cultural sources linked to the Mediterranean mythologies make reference to the woman, as a symbol of life and fertility; to the stars, which represents the passage of time and the cycle of life; and to the winged beings, halfway between the terrestrial essence and the divine.” Rosa Maria Malet – Director Fundació Joan Miró.
Femme et oiseau – painted bronze, 1967
The artist constructed a very unique artistic language of symbols and figures that are often recognizable and reiterated, yet sometimes so desintegrated as to be no more than a vague clue for the observer. It made him to be considered also very close to Dadaism.
Joan Miró’s work questions a determinant but stealthy aspect in the history of modern art: creativity and freedom. Precisely, the action is that made without premeditation, without consideration of its consequences, and which even surprises the very person who makes it. Miró always took a stand in favor of unrestricted, effusive and free. He rejected every prohibition, every imitation and every rule.
“I intend to destroy, destroy everything that exists in painting. I have utter contempt for painting.”
It is important to be aware that the artistic work of Miró also lived the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.
“In these periods, Miró’s drawings became further removed from reality. The musicality of those works distances us from the recurrent pain evidenced in other compositions, leading us to the peace and immensity of the universe.” – Joan Punyet Miró – grandson.
Constellation series, 1940, 41
Nevertheless, Miró’s art is the place of contrasts – the perfect blend of gifted artistic skills with the traits of a child, only interested in intensely and freely scribbling.
The search for excellence inside chaos is overpowering. The excellence for his own satisfaction, result of the maximum expression.
“When a painting does not satisfy me, I feel physically ill, as though I were sick, as though my heart was not working right, as though could not breath, as if I were suffocating. But as I am a fighter in these things, I throw myself into the struggle. It is a struggle between myself and what I do, between myself and the painting, between myself and my ill feeling. This struggle drives and inspires me. I work until I succeed and the bad sensation goes away.”
Another important feature is also the contrast between the use of colors, with figures drawn only in black.
The later years were characterized with synthetic shapes and the restriction of the colors to a basic gamut, namely yellow, red and blue.
Joan Miró was also outstanding in regard to cultural dissemination of art as way to inspire knowlegde, freedom and conscious, collaborative citizenship. During his life, the artist evinced an intense interest in fostering access to culture, especially among the new generations. In 1975, he opened the Joan Miró Foundation – Center for Studies in Contemporary Art in Barcelona, which went on to spread knowledge and awareness about the visual arts. It has lent greater vitality to the Spanish cultural scene, and is currently relevant on the global scale.
In 1981, Miró also signed the documents for the creation of Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca, a public and municipal institution that resulted from the generosity of a humble artist and his wife, both commited to their time.
“When an artist speaks in an environment in which freedom is difficult, he must turn each of his works into a negation of the negations, in an untying of all oppressions, all prejudices, and all the false values. When the others, around him, work at every sort of undertaking that is generally for the benefit of men, and particularly of his people and for the sake of the complete realization of their history, the artist needs to feel that he is not removed or separated from those initiatives, nor from all those efforts and that he lends mutual support with his personal presence and with the effectiveness of his work. I am happy for this opportunity, where there may resound these words of human solidarity, of loyalty to the land, of direct dialogue outside de borders of the society of classes, and ofcollaboration with the enterprise of freedom.”
Reference: Joan Miró – A força da Matéria, São Paulo: Instituto Tomie Ohtake, 2015.