Twist of Fate ascended Miro to greatness

      “No one could look at it and not know it had been painted by a great painter. It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there.” This comment was made by author Ernest Hemingway about, “The Farm,” a painting by Spanish artist Joan Miro.

     Miro was an exceptional man with the peasant virtues of quiet perseverance and stubborn courage. In addition, throughout his life, he was able to see the world as a child sees it and then paint his own vision of what he saw.

     Miro was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1893. He was an ordinary, obedient child and showed no special talent. In school he was a poor student, but he loved to draw. However, despite constant practice, his drawings were not exceptional. “I was a marvel of clumsiness,” Miro himself said about his childhood efforts.

     He took some art classes with discouraging results, and ended up working as a bookkeeper. Then there was a twist of fate. In 1911 Miro became very ill, and he had to spend six months recuperating in the country at his parents’ farm. Not only did he regain his health, but his time in the sun-drenched landscape awakened a strong desire to pursue art as a career.

     For the next three years he studied at a private art school in Barcelona. Although he desperately wanted to paint, he still felt completely inadequate about his ability. He told a friend that he lacked the skill to express himself, “and I feel rotten about it. Sometimes I knock my head against the wall in despair.”

     Gradually he mastered his materials and began to develop his own style, moving gently toward surrealism. He found that he was interested in painting each element of a picture in great detail, but filtered through his own imagination. “The Farm” was his first masterpiece.

     “The Farm” was begun in the countryside in the summer of 1921, but it was finished in Paris. He worked on it constantly for nine months, with such a passion for detail that when he left the countryside for Paris he took along two tufts of grass to refer to as models. When the painting was finished he displayed it in a café, where it was purchased by a penniless young writer named Ernest Hemingway, who liked the painting so much that he loaded and unloaded sacks of vegetables every night at the Paris produce market to earn the money to pay for it.

     What makes this picture great? The answer is complex. It combines childlike spontaneity with stylized organization; fact with fantasy; it has formal solidity and pure, brilliant color. It is not only the first blossoming of Miro’s talent, but also sets the tone for his entire future career.

     As Miro continued to paint, he turned his imagination loose and left realism behind. His next painting had a similar farm subject, transformed by fantasy. An ear grows from a tree trunk, and the branches frame a huge eye. The animals look like mythological creatures. Perspective is almost gone, the colors are no longer the colors of nature, and a snail is as large as a dog.

     Miro eventually joined a Surrealist group. The members immediately realized that he was doing amazing, unique work, and no one tried to force the group’s rigid painting rules on him. Andre Breton, the great surrealist artist, once said “Miro may rank as the most Surrealist of us all.”

     Miro’s art evolved and changed throughout his lifetime. He experimented with sculpture, pottery and Dadaist collages, and was able to produce wonderful artwork in every medium he tried. In 1932 he went back to painting. His work now showed total mastery of color and his childlike, spontaneous joy in painting. It was as if he had exchanged the doubts and uncertainty of his early career to a complete freedom of expression.

     In his final decades, Miró continued to work in different media, producing hundreds of ceramics, including the “Wall of the Moon” and “Wall of the Sun” at the UNESCO building in Paris. He also made temporary window paintings (on glass) for an exhibit. In the last years of his life Miró was still reaching out for new means of expression. He wrote about exploring the possibilities of “gas sculpture” and four-dimensional painting.

     Miro continued to explore and express himself through art until his death on December 25, 1983. Today his paintings sell for millions of dollars. 

cc SOURCE: The Art-to-Art Palette Journal print edition

Published by on August 2015. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cover Section, Paint Box Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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