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Joan Miro

03 June - 16 August 2004
The Benois Wing

Spanish painter, sculptor and graphic artist Joan Miro is one of the prominent representatives of surrealism. His art is based on imitation of children's naive drawings by means of resorting to similar situations and forms. The Joan Miro exhibition in the State Russian Museum is the first exhibition of the artist in Russia. Among the 88 works shown, there are 55 sculptures of coloured bronze, 5 paintings, and 28 drawings along with works of mixed media. The works are on loan from the the Maeght Foundation (Nizza, France). In the Maeght gallery the first exhibition of the artist's works was organised in 1948. Since then Joan Miro's works have been on permanent display in the gallery. Joan Miro was born on 20 April, 1893, in Barcelona. In 1907 he studied in the Lonja School of Fine Arts and the School of Commerce. In 1912, Miro was enrolled to the Francesco Gali Art School, were he began to study drawing "by touch", which contributed to his interest in sculpture. His studies in Free Academy of Drawing of St Lucas society, where he worked from 1915 to 1918, marked the beginning of the fauvist period in his oeuvre. At that time Miro and his friends founded the "Courbet Group" which opposed the conservative tendencies in Catalonian culture. Joan Miro's first exhibition took place in 1918 in the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona, where one of the most famous pictures of the time - "The Tracks of Carriage" - was exhibited. From 1919 the artist comes to Paris annually, where he becomes friends with Pablo Picasso. His highest achievement of that period - "poetical realism" - was "The Farm" (1921-22), the picture contains an entire space, but its immensity is based not on the endless hugeness, but on the endless smallness. Human habitat is interpreted here as a thin layer in the foreground, behind which numerous tiny bioforms are hidden. André Breton's "Manifesto of Surrealism", published in 1924, influenced the oeuvre of Joan Miro. Particularly, one of the basic principles of surrealism, connected with the use of somnambulistic images became the source of inspiration for many of his works. In Joan Miro's first surrealistic picture "Carnival of Harlequin" (1924-25) fluid, weightless creatures arbitrarily change their form and location, like lambent coloured shadows or dream images. From 1930s Joan Miro tries different materials - sandpaper, wood, rope, painting on oiled paper covered with sand, egg on masonite, and oil on copper. Later the artist became interested in ceramics as well. In 1940-41 he created the "Constellations" series in gouache, which became one of the highest achievements in Miro's oeuvre. After the end of World War II the artist had the opportunity to fulfill his dream about monumental art, available to broad masses. In 1947, he created a large-scaled wall panel for the Hilton Hotel in Cincinnati. In 1956 the artist moved to Palma-de-Majorca, and in the next few years he created a number of monumental ceramic panels, that decorated the wall in Harvard University (1960-61), the Higher Economic School in Saint-Gallen (1964), the fence of Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vance (1968), and the airport in Barcelona (1970) Miro was talented not only in painting, but also in sculpture, ceramics, theatre design, printed graphics, and poetry. In 1975 Joan Miro's Fund was founded in Barcelona. In 1992 the artist's atelier in Palma-de-Majorca became a museum. A catalogue for the exhibition has been published.