“It is in sculpture that I will create a truly phantasmagoric world of living monsters.” –Joan Miró1
Born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893, Joan Miró i Ferrà trained as a painter and initially gained renown in that medium. In addition to painting, engraving, and lithography, Miró made sculptures in intensive periods for the rest of his life. In 1928, he began making sculptural reliefs, wall-mounted constructions of found and altered materials that reflected his involvement in Dada and Surrealism in Paris, where he lived, on and off, during the 1920s and 30s. He continued to develop this method of combining found objects into suggestive, often whimsical compositions throughout his career.
In 1944, he modeled a few forms in clay, including the original models for Moonbird and Sunbird, figures that would recur in the artist’s work in a variety of media throughout his career. This same year he began working with his friend, the ceramicist Josep Llorens Artigas, on a group of ceramic objects and sculptures. Initially, Artigas provided Miró with pots to decorate, but soon their collaboration deepened, and Miró began combining unique ceramic forms into sculptural assemblages. From 1954 to 1956, Miró, Artigas, and Artigas’s son, Joan Gardy, produced 232 unique ceramics representing a stunning variety of objects: plates, vases, and tiles, as well as sculptures and assemblages ranging in size from the monumental to the haptic—something that would fit comfortably in the palm of the hand. The trio returned to their work together in the early 1960s, making a number of innovative sculptures, including large-scale ceramic murals for the UNESCO building in Paris and the monumental works commissioned for the Miró Labyrinth at the Fondation Maeght in St.-Paul-de-Vence, France, and would continue working together on and off until Miró’s death, even after the passing of Llorens Artigas.
In the early 1960s, Miró also began casting in bronze these ceramic and other sculptural compositions of objects found around his farm in Montroig, Catalunya. These took on a myriad forms and surface treatments, from raw and unfinished to darkly patinated or brightly painted. Caress of a Bird, Seated Mother and Child, and Personnage in the Nasher Collection all derive from this period of fevered sculptural experimentation, which continued until the end of his life and included major public monuments in Barcelona, Chicago, Paris, and Houston.
Nasher Exhibitions and Publications
Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso 1943-1963
Morse, Jed, Catherine Craft, Dakin Hart, and Marin R. Sullivan. Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miro´, Noguchi, and Picasso 1943-1963. Dallas: Nasher Sculpture Center, 2013.
Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght
Fundació Joan Miró
Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca
1Joan Miró, “Working Notes, 1941-42,” trans. Patricia Mathews and reprinted in Margit Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1986; republished Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1992), 175.