Joan Miró rejected the constraints of traditional painting; creating works which he once said were “conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness”. Widely considered one of the leading Surrealists, though never officially part of movement, Miró pioneered a wandering linear style of Automatism—a method of “random” drawing that attempted to express the inner workings of the human mind. Miró used colour and form in a symbolic rather than literal manner, his intricate compositions combining abstract elements with recurring motifs like birds, eyes, and the moon. “I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music,” he said. While he prized artistic freedom, Miró revered art history, basing a series of works on the Dutch Baroque interiors of Hendrick Sorgh and Jan Steen. In turn, Miró has inspired many artists—significantly Arshile Gorky, whose bold linear abstractions proved to be a core influence on Abstract Expressionism.
Miro was born in Barcelona in 1893 and earned international acclaim for his work in Surrealism. As a member of the Generation of ’27, a collective made up of Spanish poets, writers, painters and film makers, he and others were forced to flee Spain under the Franco Regime. Miro’s surrealist origins evolved out of ‘repression’ much like all Spanish surrealists whose Catalan ethnicity was subject to persecution by the Franco regime. Miro was one of the first to develop automatic drawings in rejection of traditional techniques in painting. He wanted the freedom to experiment with different artistic styles and rejected membership to any artistic movement including Surrealism. Andre Breton, the founder of Surrealism, described him as “the most Surrealist of us all.”
Although he was living in Barcelona, Miro made frequent visits to Paris to work on printing his lithographs and engravings. In the final decades of his life, Miro worked in different media, producing hundreds of ceramics, temporary window paintings, and tapestry. After receiving a doctorate in 1979 from the University of Barcelona, he passed away four years later in Palma, Spain.