Joan Miro Ferra was born April 20, 1893, in Barcelona. At the age of 14, he went to business school in Barcelona and also attended La Lonja’s Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales y Bellas Artes in the same city.
Upon completing three years of art studies, he took a position as a clerk. After suffering a nervous breakdown, he abandoned business and resumed his art studies, attending Francesc Gali’s Escola d’Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915. Miro received early encouragement from the dealer Jose Dalmau, who gave him his first solo show at his gallery in Barcelona in 1918. In 1917, he met Francis Picabia.
In 1920, Miro made his first trip to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso. From this time, Miro divided his time between Paris and Montroig, Spain. In Paris, he associated with the poets Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Tristan Tzara and participated in Dada activities. Dalmau organized Miro’s first solo show in Paris, at the Galerie la Licorne in 1921. His work was included in the Salon d’Automne of 1923.
In 1924, Miro joined the Surrealist group. His solo show at the Galerie Pierre, Paris, in 1925 was a major Surrealist event; Miro was included in the first Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre that same year. He visited the Netherlands in 1928 and began a series of paintings inspired by Dutch masters. This year he also executed his first papiers colles and collages. In 1929, he started his experiments in lithography, and his first etchings date from 1933.
During the early 1930s, he made Surrealist sculptures incorporating painted stones and found objects. In 1936, Miro left Spain because of the civil war; he returned in 1941. Also in 1936, Miro was included in the exhibitions Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The following year, he was commissioned to create a monumental work for the Paris World’s Fair.
Miro’s first major museum retrospective was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1941. That year, Miro began working in ceramics with Josep Llorens y Artigas and started to concentrate on prints; from 1954 to 1958, he worked almost exclusively in these two mediums.
He received the Grand Prize for Graphic Work at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and his work was included in the first Documenta exhibition in Kassel the following year. In 1958, Miro was given a Guggenheim International Award for murals for the UNESCO building in Paris. The following year, he resumed painting, initiating a series of mural-sized canvases.
During the 1960s, he began to work intensively in sculpture. Miro retrospectives took place at the Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1962, and the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1974. In 1978, the Musee National d’Art Moderne exhibited over 500 works in a major retrospective of his drawings.
Miro died December 25, 1983, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.