“Mallorca is a truly beautiful island. In some places, it still feels as fresh as if the world had just been created. That’s not something you will find in the Parisian environments we have visited.”
Joan Miró, 1948
Joan Miró had close ties to Mallorca throughout his entire life. Although he was born in Barcelona on April 20th, 1893, his mother, Dolors Ferrà, was Mallorcan, as were his maternal grandparents. Given this family connection, in 1900, when Miró was barely seven years old, he began spending part of each summer in Mallorca with his maternal grandmother. During these summer holidays, Miró drew windmills, seascapes, and landmark buildings such as the Llotja and the Bellver castle.
Miró had strong ties to two specific places: Montroig, in the province of Tarragona, where his parents owned a country house, and Mallorca. Both settings offered him spiritual solace and a place to live and work immersed in unspoilt natural surroundings. Direct contact with the earth allowed him to soak up its energy as if he were a tree.
In 1920, Miró made his first visit to Paris, which would change the course of his life. “I feel a new world opening up in my mind.” From that moment on, he began combining the “spiritual effervescence” of Paris with the peace and quiet of country life, as he expressed on many an occasion: “The time I spent in Paris opened up a world of ideas for me, and now, in the stimulating peace of the country, I delve passionately into my work [...] my ideal, Paris and the countryside of Catalonia (and of Mallorca, needless to say).”
His ties to Mallorca were strengthened when he became engaged to a young Mallorcan woman, Pilar Juncosa, in the summer of 1929, whom he married shortly thereafer, on October 12th that same year.
In 1940, the Nazi air raids forced Miró to leave France and seek shelter in Mallorca. During his stay on the island, until the autumn of 1942, Miró developed an interest in music and continued to cultivate his interest in poetry. He also continued painting his Constellations series.
In 1954, Miró decided to leave Barcelona and settle permanently in Mallorca: "This is a wonderful place... We are about to buy a house near Palma, on a splendid plot of land. Splitting my time between this place [Mallorca] and Paris, with the occasional trip to New York, would be ideal for my work and my health.”
In Mallorca, in 1956, Miró fulfilled one of his dreams: to have a studio of his own, designed by his friend the Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert. During the years when the studio was being built and up until the late 1950s, Miró almost stopped painting altogether, working primarily on ceramics, etching, and lithography. The pace of his work changed when he settled in Palma in 1956 and moved into the new studio. He began looking over former paintings and sketchbooks. As he later recalled, “For the first time ever, I had enough space. In the new studio, I was able to unpack boxes with canvases I’d painted many years back [...] When I took them all out, in Mallorca, I began my self-criticism process [...] I was relentless with myself. I destroyed many canvases, and particularly many drawings and gouaches."
This revision of his former production must have had a positive effect on his new work. The many paintings Miró produced during the 1960s reveal renewed strength and expressivity, perhaps as a result of his knowledge of American Abstract Expressionism and of Eastern Art and calligraphy.
In the autumn of 1959, Miró purchased an 18th-century house named Son Boter as an additional studio space where he could work on monumental sculptures and paintings. He ended up using it primarily for painting and for drawing on the walls at a variety of different scales.
Mallorca was by no means a place of retirement for Miró, a place to forget his creative endeavors. On the contrary; it was a fertile garden that he cultivated with the utmost care, to use the artist’s own metaphor: “I work like a gardener.” In his later years, Miró continued to work tirelessly, as we can see from the number and quality of works and projects he undertook: painting, sculpture, public art projects, prints, ceramics, murals, stained glass, tapestries, as well as theater sets and costumes.
In addition to the two studios, the Sert studio and Son Boter, in May, 1962, Miró started to consider setting up his own printmaking studio in Palma in order to pursue his urge to make his work available to a broader public. Not only did the multiple reproductions of his printwork make his art more accessible, but the many public art projects he conceived enabled him to reach a far larger number of potential viewers.
The seeds sowed by Miró over his entire lifetime continued to scatter and bear fruit long after his death on December 25th, 1983, in his home at Son Abrines, in Palma de Mallorca. As Miró himself had phrased it, “What counts is not the work itself, but the course of one’s spirit throughout one’s entire life. It’s not what you’ve done during your life, but what it will enable others to see and do in the short or long term.”