When I was painting the Constellations, I had the genuine feeling that I was working in secret, but it was a liberation for me in that I ceased thinking about the tragedy all around me.

Joan Miro’s first show in Paris, in 1920, was a big disappointment for the artist. No one showed up and no paintings were sold. After the show, Miro went back to his home in Catalonia and began to incorporate what he had learned from the avant-garde artists and writers he had met in Paris with his own sensibility.

The result was The Birth of the World, a painting that combines whimsical forms and intense colors, which would become his signature style. Ironically, The Birth of the World was not well received by Miro’s friends or art dealers. Belgian art collector, Rene Gaffe, bought it in 1925 and kept it stashed in his private collection, exhibiting it only once, in Brussels, in the 1930s.

The Museum of Modern Art, which has one of the world’s most extensive collections of works by Joan Miro, bought the painting  from Gaffe’s widow in 1972, and it has been on continual display at MoMA ever since. Joan Miro: The Birth of the World includes painting, prints, lithographs and sculptures, mainly from MoMA’s collection. The exhibit runs through June 15, 2019.

The Quieter Side of Joan Miro

Joan Miro was born in Barcelona in 1893. He began to paint and draw at an early age, much to the dismay of his parents, who wanted him to have a career in business. Miro went to business school, and even took a job as a clerk, but abandoned business for art. He expanded his medium, using collage, ceramics, print and lithography, though his style remained his own.

Miro divided his time between Paris and summers at his family home in Mont-roig, Spain, but fled to Normandy with his family in 1939 when World War ll broke out. It was during this time, when Normandy was under a blackout order, that he created his series of Constellation paintings.

“When I was painting the Constellations, I had the genuine feeling that I was working in secret, but it was a liberation for me in that I ceased thinking about the tragedy all around me.” Miro said.

The Constellation Series had a profound  influence on Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Arshile Gorky and other artists who came after Miro. At the same time that Miro fled to Normandy, his friend, architect Josep Sert, fled to New York. Sert had an illustrious career in the United States. After a year as Visiting Professor at Yale, he became Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he initiated the world’s first degree program in urban design.

In 1955, Sert designed a studio for Joan Miro in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, his first project in Spain after his exile. After Miro’s death in 1983, the studio was left as Miro had requested. “I want everything that I leave behind to stay just as it is when I am gone”. he said. The studio, which has been a tourist attraction for decades, has been recently re-opened to the public after being closed for nearly a year of renovations.

Joan Miro Works at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Joan Miro, or any of the other fine artists whose work is available in our gallery.

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References:
GRoberta Smith. Miró’s Greatness? It Was There. The New York Times. March 14, 2019.
Nancy Kenney. Making Miro: MoMA show explores turning point in artist’s career. The Art Newspaper. March 7, 2019.
Dany Chan. The Horrors and Delights of the Surrealist Subconscious. Hyper allergic. March 7, 2019.
Barbara Hoffman. Inside the splashy, bird-brained genius of Joan Miro. The New York Post. March 1, 2019.
Lauren Moya Ford. Joan Miro’s Studio Reopens with a Refreshed Perspective. Hyper allergic. February 21, 2019.