In 1910 Miró worked as a ledger clerk in a trading house in Barcelona, and began painting while attending the Gali Art School and the Drawing Academy of the Circle Saint Lluch. In 1918 he joined the Agrupacio Courbet, led by the ceramist Josep Llorens Artigas, and had his first one-man show at the Dalmau Gallery He completed the first paintings of his detailist period—featuring landscapes, nudes and still lifes—and in 1920 set off to conquer Paris. Neither of the canvases that were presented in a show at the Galerie La Licorne, with a catalog by Maurice Raynal, nor those exhibited at the Salon d'Automne met with success. Living near Andre Masson in an atelier on Rue Blomet, he returned every summer to his family's home in Mont Roig, Spain. Finally, after painting Terre labourée (1923) and Le Carnaval d'Arlequin (1924, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo), he made a stunning surrealist debut, and was enthusiastically hailed by the group's members, who contributed to making his exhibition at the Galerie Pierre, in June 1925, a triumph. Between 1928 and 1931 Miró pursued what he called "the assassination of painting," seeking to ransack the entire classical tradition and counter it with new possibilities in the art of signs. This led him to copy paintings of the masters, distorting them to the utmost—for example, his three Dutch Interiors (1928) and four Portraits imaginaires (1929)—expanding his world of innovation. He created object-paintings, assemblages, paintings on wood panels, copper or Masonite, and collage-drawings on sheets of black paper or sandpaper. In 1932 he painted the sets for Léonide Massine's Jeux d'Enfants for the Monte Carlo Ballet. In 1934 he went through a savage period, in which he painted monsters—intentionally unattractive subjects, such as Homme et femme devant un tas d'excréments (1936). During the Spanish Civil War he challenged his means of ex-pression, composed the poster "Aidez l'Espagne," drew nudes at La Grande Chaumiere, and returned to still life. In 1939, having sought refuge at Varengeville, he executed paintings on sackcloth and began the Constellations—a series of twenty-two gouaches for which André Breton wrote twenty-two parallel prose pieces. His retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1941, celebrated the first stage of his evolution. In 1945, after the Second World War, Miró executed large canvases on a white or black background, alternating between "slow" and "spontaneous" paintings. From 1954 to 1959, he stopped painting altogether in order to concentrate on making high-temperature fired terra-cottas with Artigas.
Miró created two ceramic walls for the Unesco Secretariat in Paris (1957-8) and another at Harvard University (1960). Returning to painting, he painted on cardboard and experimented with works in a minimal style, beginning with his murals Bleu I, II and III (1961). From that time on, Miró tirelessly collected pictorial riches and poetic inventions at his house in Palma de Mallorca. "I work like a gardener or a wine grower" he said, adding, "More than the picture itself, what counts is what it casts into the air, what it disseminates."
Born 1893 in Barcelona; died 1983 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.