The whimsical yet deliberate style of Joan Miro is well known throughout the world. Born in Spain in 1893, Miro attended the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona from 1907to 1910, followed by studies at the Académie Gali.
Miro's early works were influenced by the Post-Impressionism of Van Gogh and later by the work of Matisse and the Cubists. After his first one man show in Barcelona, Miro travelled to Paris in 1819. In this city, he made contact with Picasso and became influenced by Dada and Surrealism. Here he began to develop his signature style.
Miro's works present a strange mixture of real and abstracted, fantastic forms. He deliberately creates a decorative simplicity. On the same canvas, he mixes free, organic shapes with more geometric presentations. Under the influence of Breton and the Surrealists, Miro's arbitrarily arranged shapes made figurative references. The playfulness and fantasy elements of his work were influenced by Klee. Miro participated in his first Surrealist exhibit in 1925.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the 1930s, Miro created imaginative and seemingly childlike collages using paper, string, tar and metal. Over time, these collages became three dimensional Surrealist objects. In the 1930s, Miro began to work on wooden constructions which closely followed the forms of his paintings. At this time, the paintings themselves were becoming more bleak and gloomy. The previously playful forms became gross and frightening monsters. The colors were dark and exuded violence. This work surely reflected the artist's fears about the threat of Fascism in Spain.
By the end of the 1930s, much of the aggressiveness in Miro's work was lost. He began to focus on shapes of flat colors and connecting lines. In the 1940s, these shapes grew bigger and fewer. In his later works, figurative references were almost completely eliminated. During this period, Miro was commissioned to create large murals. He worked on one mural for the 1937 Paris World Fair, another for Harvard University in 1950 and another in the UNESCO building in Paris in 1955.
An exhibit at the MOMA in New York City in 1941-42 brought Miro's work to the American public on a grand scale. His paintings and sculpture had a profound impression on many American painters. His highly recognizable and unique style remains an influence in modern times. Miro surely lived long enough to be aware of his own impact on the art world; he died at the age of ninety in 1983.