Summing up Joan Miró’s extraordinary work and inventive style in just ten artworks sure wasn’t easy! Today, KAZoART looks at the greatest masterpieces of the Catalan artist whose humoristic and creative imagination had a huge influence on the avant-garde movement in the early 20th century.

Miró and Catalonia, a beautiful love affair

Attempting to understand Miró and his work inevitably means looking at his early years. His roots, both geographical and emotional, take us to the land of Catalonia. Here, the red mountains of Mont-Roig provided one of the painter’s greatest sources of inspiration.

When Miró contracted typhus at the age of 18, his family sent him for convalescence in Baix Camp. During the year he spent there, he discovered Catalonia’s beauty, its immense fields, ploughed land, and stunning sunsets. It marked a turning point in his life. The artist spent many summers at the family farm, surrounded by almond trees, palm trees and carob trees, all of which provided a deeply inspiring and influential natural setting. Describing the location, he wrote, “Mont-Roig is the preliminary, primitive shock, where I always come back.”

#1 The Farm (1922)

 Joan Miró, The Farm
Joan Miró, The Farm (1922)

#2 The Hunter (Catalan Landscape), (1923-1924)

 Joan Miró, The Hunter
Joan Miró, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape), (1923–1924)

Further reading: The Hunter in the spotlight

#3 The Tilled Land (1923-1924)

 Joan Miró, The Tilled Land
Joan Miró, The Tilled Land (1923-1924)

#4 Carnival of Harlequin (1924-1925)

 Joan Miró, Carnival of Harlequin
Joan Miró, Carnival of Harlequin (1924-1925)

Miró’s style, a mixture of abstraction and figuration

Although Miró touched on Surrealism, he was not a Surrealist as such, and various keys are required to understand his style, as the artist invented his own vocabulary, symbols and writing technique. His work was almost indecipherable, and he was often dubbed the ‘master of the bizarre’! Miró’s work crosses over several styles, from classic to strange, figurative and complete deconstruction. He was a world unto himself, like many other great masters of painting.

The moon, the stars, and the sun were all key elements in his almost esoteric but above all colorful universe. Color was essential to Miró. His yellow, red, green and blue palette was inspired at least in part from his frequent visits to Majorca. It almost always features the same range of tones, although the artist would occasionally experiment with more original colors, as in his Dutch Interiors, which use a broader palette.

#5 Dutch Interior I (1928)

 Joan Miró, Dutch Interior
Joan Miró, Dutch Interior I (1928)

6# Woman in Front of the Sun (1950)

 Joan Miró, Woman in Front of the Sun
Joan Miró, Woman in Front of the Sun (1950)

#7 The Blue Series (1960-1961)

 Joan Miró, Blue I, II and II
Joan Miró, Blue I, II and II (1960-1961)

The artist aimed to constantly break with convention and even to “assassinate painting”. He never provided any specific reading of his works. Each was left entirely to the spectator’s interpretation. If one person saw a bird, then that’s what it was, if another saw a specific shape, Miró agreed entirely!

A multi-disciplinary artist

In his final years, Miró focused on creating monumental sculptures and ceramic walls. From 1944 on, sculpture became extremely important in his work. And, although he used bronze with patinas, he never forgot one of his greatest tools, his painter’s palette.

#8 Caress of a Bird (1967)

 Caress of a Bird
Caress of a Bird (1967) / Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona

#9 Ceramic wall in Ludwigshafen, Germany (1979)

Ceramic wall (1979) / Joan Miró [Public domain]

#10 Woman and Bird (1982)

 Woman and Bird (1982) in the Joan Miró park in Barcelona
Woman and Bird (1982) in the Joan Miró park in Barcelona / Zarateman [CC0]

Various recurring themes, such as women, children, maternity and stars, act as a common thread in Miró’s art. In his designs, the moon represents femininity and the sun masculinity. This created dichotomies, such as between the sky and the earth. The earth was tilled, rooted, anchored and incredibly important to the artist, contrasting his more ethereal spirit, celestial thoughts, and notably the symbol of the bird that featured heavily in his works.