Some curious facts about Joan Miró, a painter who studied for being an accountant and sold  Picasso his first artwork.

He is one the most important artists of the 20th century but little has been told about his private life. Unlike Picasso’s affaires or Dalí’s eccentricities, he was quiet and discreet. Innocent but ground breaking, he assuret that “Art has been in decline since Prehistory“. Here more curious facts about Miró.

facts about miró
Joan Miró portraited by Sinsombra.


Miró studied to “become someone”

He was born in Barcelona in 1893. Son of Dolors Ferrà and Miquel Miró, it can be said that he spent his childhood surrounded by art. His father was a blacksmith, watchmaker and goldsmith and his grandfather worked as a cabinetmaker. Despite this background, the family made him studying Business to become “someone in life”. Even so, Miró convinced them to attend art lessons at night. His father allowed it because he thought it as a hobby but  young Miró was influenced by two teachers who would mark his life forever. From Modest Urgell he assumed three recurrent elements in his works: the red circle, the moon and the star. From Josep Pascó, the avant-gardes of the twentieth century and to simplify.

His first exhibition was a total fail

Joan Miró decided he wanted to be a painter after an illness that forced him to retire in a farmhouse in Mont-roig (Girona) for two years. He returned Barcelona to continue practising and in 1918, at the age of twenty-four, he organized his first exhibition at Dalmau Galleries. He didn’t sell anything.

curiosidades de joan miro
‘Catalan Landscape’, Joan Miró.
Picasso and Miró became friends thanks to an “ensaimada”

Picasso and Miró’s mothers were friends so when Joan Miró decided to move to Paris, where Picasso lived, he was ordered to bring him an ensaimada- a coiled puff pastry from Mallorca. Miró tried to do the assignment but Picasso was always busy. When they met, ensaimada was not edible. That was the beginning of a great friendship. The one that introduced Miró to the art world. Picasso was his first buyer with Portrait d’une anseuse espagnole (d1921).

Years later, Miró would visit Picasso in Cote d’Azur, near Nice. He knocked on the door. A member of the stuff received the guest but he didn’t let him in. By protocol, he used to tell visitors he had to check if the genius was at home. When he announced Miró’s arrival, Picasso said he was spending the night there. The worker, surprised, asked about that interest. His boss answered: “There are many painters chasing the stars of the sky, but the only one who has caught them is Joan Miró: the man waiting at the door.”

curiosidades de joan miró
Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso at  Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Paris, 1937 | Museo Reina Sofía.


Used hunger to get inspired

Until Picasso became his first buyer, Joan Miró had hardships. He knew his family disagreed in him living in Paris to become an artist. He refused asking for financial help. “Every time I was hungry, I painted. Not to eat, but because hallucinations made me exploring new worlds”.

Ernest Hemingway won a Miró’s piece in a bet

Miró soon became part of the surrealist circles of Paris. There he met Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, André Massón and writer Ernest Hemingway. The Barcelonian artist remembers him “poorer than rats. With his pants full of holes”. Despite his shortcomings, Hemingway used to travel to Spain fascinated by bullfighting, Spanish landscape and bohemian nights. When Miró painted La Masía inspired by that house in Mont-Roig, Hemingway did his best to give it to Hadley Richardson, his first wife. The same effect caused in poet Evan Shipman. They played dice to be owners of the artpiece and Hemingway won. His friend helped him asking for money to buy the work.

The crowdfunding worked but the author of For whom the bell tolls left to Richardson by journalist Pauline Pfeiffer. Therefore, he separated of La Masía. When he contacted his ex-wife to get the painting back, she accepted. When Hemingway died in 1961 his fourth wife, Mary Welsh (also a journalist), inherited the painting. Hadley Richardson claimed it but they reached an agreement and today, it is expoesed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

curiosidades de joan miró
‘La Masía’, the painting that captivated Ernest Hemingway.


Miró wanted to “kill painting”

This quote means he wanted to get rid of the idea of classic ​​painting, “to go beyond easel painting”. That is, experimenting with new approaches and materials. He found the ideal weapon in cave paintings of Prehistory. To the point to claim  that “art has been in decline since Altamira”. After visiting those caves in the fifties, he began to work with abandoned objects, ceramics and new formats. Hence, he designed the facade of the T2 of the El Prat airport and the iconic Mosaic of La Rambla.

He took his words seriously. He liked making art pieces and destroy them because for him, “art is ephemeral”. Once he painted the windows of the College of Architects of Barcelona. Two months later, he cleaned them with a wet broom and solvent. At the end of the seventies this anti painting stage was translated in burned and slashed canvases.

facts about Miró
Joan Miró’s Mosaic in La Rambla.


One of his works burned in 11-S

The attack on the Twin Towers resulted in an economic loss of more than $ 1 billion in works of art. Among other works, three hundred sculptures and drawings by Rodin, a mural by Louise Nevelson and a tapestry by Joan Miró were lost. It burned, it but survived the attack.