Joan Miro

By Allyson Christian


Surrealism emerged from the fall of Dada in early 1917. This movement was seen as almost a higher intellectual level of Dadaism. Surrealists all wanted to connect to their audience with dream like paintings that were so intense that in some paintings it was almost grotesque. Miro did not use the scare tactic but chose rather to gain his audience by personalizing with people on a common level. Joan Miro was born April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Spain. Dying at age 90 in December of 1983, Miro influenced many, such as modern designers and the late 20th– century artist with his painting and ideas of Surrealism. Born into the families of a goldsmith and a cabinet-maker, Miro was raised by two different families. Mother, Dolores Ferra and father, Miquel Miro Adzerias put Miro in drawing classes at the young age of seven at a private school. The traits Miro learned at this school were the building blocks for the legendary Joan Miro that we still study today. The uses of common themes in paintings are what keep his works of art still alive and relevant in 2012.

Going to school for both art and business, Miro worked his first job as a clerk until he had a nervous breakdown. After leaving the business world Miro began to devote all his time to art. His parents disapproved of this because they both were hard working business people themselves. Even with his parent’s disapproval, Miro completed his artistic education in Barcelona. Studying the works of Vincent Van Gogh, cubists exhibitions in Barcelona, and Paul Cezanne. He used these artists to develop his first works of art that lead to his first one-man show in 1918.

To “rediscover the sources of human feeling, to create poetry by way of painting, using a vocabulary of signs and symbols, plastic metaphors, and dream images to express definite themes”  was Miros’ way he wanted to connect with his audience. Believing that the only have a true connection with viewers is to paint of common experiences and with those relatable paintings he could reach different classes of viewers. Religion and native landscape are few themes that were portrayed in many his paintings. The Potato is an example of Miros native landscape. Painted in 1928; this painting was a representation of landscape in Miro’s eyes. The woman that takes full focus in this art work gives the sense that she is guarding the crops that lie under her. Miro used many spherical and geometric forms to construct a ghost like figure, who takes up most all of the painting. Her head and body are connected by a red rod that resembles a scare-crow figure. The woman is all white suggests that the woman herself is a canvas. The one eye expresses that she is watching over and protecting crops. On her body she has two breasts showing that she is in fact a woman, by exposing the breast it is another example of how this woman is playing a motherly role in caring for crops that she is protecting. Coming out of her left breast is a string that can be interpreted as food for the crops. To the left of that breast is a circular figure with lines coming out, almost representing a sun. To have both food and sunshine for the crops, gives a sense that this figure is almost God like because this figure now controls, protects, and watches over her crops. Miro can connect to a large community of people with the theme of native landscape. A more personal and controversial theme is religion. The use of religious icons can be found in multiple paintings of his.

Miro places many religious icons in his paintings such as Self Portrait II painted in 1938. The use of only two colors, red and blue, that are used and connected by a white line in two different spots on the painting. The blue is viewed as heaven and red as hell. Miro stated, I have withdrawn inside myself, and the more skeptical I have become about the things around me the closer I have become to God[1]. Surrealists portray scenes of reality but in a very deeper sense. To some people that deeper sense of reality is almost un-readable. Even being un-readable they are interesting. The paintings of surrealists catch the eye of viewers; make them stop and stare in either amazement or wonder. Viewing these paintings took people to another place. It was not just another simple perfect drawing of a woman sitting in a chair; these paintings were in your face with color and geometrical shapes.

The painting that made him believe in building personal connections is The Tilled Field. The painting is a bright yellow landscape that has so many different scenes taking place. The viewer has to focus on specific pieces of the art just to analyze the bigger meaning. The use of color and whimsical figures that represent daily objects almost allure the viewer making you feel as if you can touch the field or pet the horse. Along with wanting to have a connection with his viewers Miro stated “I have a strong desire to have loving relations, so to speak, with my earth, to lie on the sand and like this beautiful sky”[2]. That desire to be one with both the earth and sky is what fuels the image of his paintings. In Self Portrait II Miro paints uses a black background for the painting while using a basic color palette that consists of red/orange, yellow, and blue along with white detail. Going along with the basic colors are the simple geometric shapes that he paints such as stars, circles, and triangles. The stars are at the top left of the painting, which represents the night sky. The triangles that surround the circle could represent either a sun or flowers. The stars and suns express night and day. The brush strokes on the triangles are very loose and rugged compared to the rest of the painting which is very controlled. The combination of obvious sun and stars on this painting represent a stable running ecosystem. That ecosystem mixes with fish that are painted in pairs of two. There is an obvious dream like quality to this painting because the two worlds of the sea and sky collide into one painting.



[1] Miro to Ricart, correspondence of August 1917; translated in Margit Rowell, ed., Joan Miro: Selected Writings and Interviews (Boston, 1986), 50

[2] Miro, Joan, and Beaumelle, Agnes, and Pomldou, Centre, Joan Miro; 1917-193, Paris: Centre Pompidou Pub,2004, 70

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