The joyfulness of Joan Mirò

I finally managed to make it to the Mirò exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, just before it closed. Mirò was far from being my favorite artist, but these retrospectives always contain a number of treasures, and I was not to be disappointed. Although there are always too many people in blockbuster shows, they also feature paintings from private collections or faraway museums, which you would never get the chance to see otherwise.

 

 

Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. He was born in 1893 in Barcelona, the son of a silversmith and watchmaker.

 

 

He began drawing classes when he was 7, and at 20 he moved to Paris and joined the art community in Montparnasse. Below is a surprisingly monochrome but strangely alluring painting.

 

 

Mirò is considered a pioneer of surrealism. He tried to portray the subconscious mind, to recreate the child-like and also subvert what he saw as the art of a bourgeois society. He loved color and used it in unexpected combinations.

 

 

During the German occupation Mirò fled to Spain, and between 1940-1941 he created the 23 gouache series Constellations, on of which you can see below. They are small, delicate compositions, and gain nothing through my phone photos.

 

 

Mirò was always testing out new territory, and experimented with all available mediums, trying his hand at collage, sculpture, and even tapestry. He kept working until late in life, creating amazing large-scale works in his 80s—including a tapestry for the World Trade Center, which was lost in the September 11 attack.

Below is a detail from one of his sculptures, in which one can see his irreverent and playful spirit.

 

 

I came away with a new-found appreciation of his work, being especially drawn to his joie de vivre and explosion of color.