Van Gogh •
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Joan Miro was born in Montroig in the province of Catalonia, Spain. He began to study art when he was fourteen, at the Barcelona
School of Fine Arts, but after a short time he enrolled at the Gali Academy in the same city. When he was eighteen, he decided that academic instruction was not giving him anything very useful, and began to work alone. Upon his first visit to Paris in 1919, he came under the influence of Braque and Picasso, and for a time he painted in the Cubist manner. By 1925, however, he had become a member of the Surrealist group. He exhibited with them in their first show, and his work began to take on the style and character now associated with his name. At about this time he worked with Max Ernst on the sets and costumes of Roméo et Juliette, a
Diaghilev Ballet russe production. His famous Harlequin's Carnival, now in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, was also painted at this time. In 1928 Miro traveled to Holland and was exhibited for the first time in New York. He then began producing a group of collages that was shown in Paris in 1930, and in 1937 he painted a large mural for the Paris Exhibition. Miro left France in 1940 and went to the island of Majorca, where he continued to paint, began to make lithographs, and did ceramic work with Artigas. He returned to Paris in 1944, and divided his time between that city and Barcelona, continued to paint, but also designed tapestries and rugs, made ceramics, and created sculptures in stone and wood. Miro's work, sometimes called "biomorphic abstraction," is brilliant in color. It is carefully composed of curvilinear shapes that are as mobile and fluid as the changing shapes of the amoeba. He was the leader of the school of Surrealists whose work was disciplined yet not intellectual. His melting forms transport us to a timeless universe furnished with magical symbols and characters which approach human individuality. The fascination of Miro lies in the fact that we can never quite transform the ideas he offered into specific words or thoughts.