Born in 1893, Joan Miró was one of Spain's greatest artists, and along with Tàpies, the undisputed master of contemporary Catalan art. His work is known for its whimsical abstract forms, brilliant colors, and surrealism. Some 10,000 works, including paintings, graphics, and sculptures, are collected here. Constructed in the early 1970s, the building was designed by Catalan architect Josep Lluis Sert, a close friend of Miró (he also designed the artist's workroom in Majorca). Set in the parkland of Montjuïc, the museum consists of a series of white, rationalist-style galleries with terra-cotta floors. Claraboias (skylights) ensure that the space is bathed in natural light. Its hilltop setting affords some wonderful views of Barcelona, especially from the rooftop terrace that also serves as a sculpture garden.
The collection, donated by the artist himself, is so huge that only a portion of it can be shown at any one time. There is also a gallery put aside for temporary exhibitions, dedicated either to an aspect of Miró's work or to a contemporary artist or movement. Concerts are held in the gardens in the summer months.
The first gallery holds two of the collection's treasures: the magnificent 1979 Foundation Tapestry, which Miró executed especially for the space, and the extraordinary Mercury Fountain, a work by his friend the American sculptor Alexander Calder. In contrast to Miró's painting, which was nearly always carried out in a primary color palette, there is a huge collection of drawings from his days as student. It's obvious that, even as a young man, he had a deep sense of national identity and "Catalanism," which (logically) later led to an extreme horror at the Spanish Civil War. The key work representing this sentiment is the powerful Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement (1935), in the Pilar Juncosa Gallery, one of the so-called "Wild Paintings." Much of Miró's work, though, is dreamlike and uplifting, with the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies represented again and again. Note the poetic The Gold of the Azure (1967) in the same gallery: a transfixing blue cloud on a golden background with dots and strokes for the planets and stars.
Even if you are already familiar with Miró's work, the excellent commentary provided by the audio guide (available at the ticket office) will supply you with special insight into this fascinating artist.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2009
- Very Highly Recommended 2010