Fundació Miró

Miró and Mallorca

In 1956, at the age of 63, Miró moved to Palma. However, this was by no means a place where he intended to retire or leave his creative activity aside. On the contrary; Mallorca was a fertile garden that Miró tended with great attention and devotion, to quote the metaphor the artist used in 1959 when he stated: “I work like a gardener.”

As far as his painting was concerned, in this mature period Miró continued to depict some of his recurrent themes and subjects—stars, suns, moons, women, characters, birds, landscapes—in a more direct, gestural language. From the mid-1940s on, the precision of his hand began to move alongside thicker, more expressive strokes from which drops occasionally seeped out. His art became increasingly spontaneous, direct, and gestural, even before he encountered American abstract expressionism during his stay in New York in 1947. Miró’s work had marked the beginning of the New York School, and reciprocally, American abstract expressionism gradually exerted its influence on Miró.

Nonetheless, during the 1960s Miró’s language took up previous elements such as checkerboard patterns. Several different styles appear to coexist during the same period in works such as Mosaic and Poème, for instance, both painted in 1966. During the 1970s, the more spontaneous, direct aspect of Miró’s work reveals substantial changes in his methods. Miró began applying paint with his fingers, his fists, and his hands. He made thick streaks with his fingers and combined them with precise brushstrokes and thin lines executed with Japanese bamboo brushes and toothpicks. He applied paint by rubbing his fists or stamping his handprints over and over the canvas. Poème, from 1966, (FPJM-98) shows cascades of hands, as in cave paintings. Miró laid down his canvases horizontally to paint on them, actually placing them directly on the ground. This enabled him to walk on them, which explains the footprints in Toile brûlée, 1973. During this period, Miró either used a background of haphazard blotches as a starting point for his paintings or structured the composition with black to which he then added splashes or drippings. These haphazard backgrounds with splashes had a precedent back in 1925, El naixement del món. Clearly this method of painting on the ground and dripping relate Miró to Jackson Pollock, whom he met personally during his stay in New York in 1947. The time he spent in the United States introduced him to avant-garde American painting, which he admired for its vitality, its enthusiasm, and its spontaneity.

This gestural approach to painting is also related to Eastern art and calligraphy. Clearly Miró’s interest in Japan, his friendship with the Japanese poet Shuzo Takiguchi, and his two visits to that country, in 1966 and 1969, contributed to Japanese art leaving its mark on Miró. A good example of this influence, in terms of technique, format, and materials, is the ink drawing on paper measuring over 9 meters in length (FPJM-573). The broken line of some of the images reveals that it may have been drawn with a Japanese bamboo brush. In addition, Miró used the method of Japanese calligraphers—a stage of deep concentration preceding a trance-like state, followed by a rapid execution. Spontaneity was an inherent factor in oriental ink drawings; the hand not only had to reflect the artists’ mastery, but also their state of mind.

Faithful to his statement “I work like a gardener”, Miró transformed his works into a field that he plowed, dug, pruned, and watered. Miró cut slashes in his canvas, perforated it, splashed it with paint, set it ablaze, scorched it or burned it, as in Toile brûlée, 1973. Scratches and abrasions are frequent, as we can see in the far right of the ink drawing on paper from 1972 (FPJM-573). True to his task as a gardener, Miró sprinkles his field. His notes encourage him to drip and gush. The pigments burst into splashes in many paintings, such as the oil on a black background dated around 1974 (FPJM-53) or La Nuit, also from 1974. These flowing rivulets of paint counter the small retreats of color that saturate the canvas, like the patches of blue in the left of Oiseaux, 1973 (FPJM-23). Built-up matter is sometimes also set as a counterpoint to this fluidity. Pigment is concentrated on white impastos in his painting on plywood, 1977 (FPJM-135). The texture of these accumulations of matter adds to the roughness of certain surfaces. Clearly Miró had a penchant for unusual, uneven materials such as sandpaper, which he used for Personnage, oiseaux, 1976 (FPJM-146). In addition to using these rough surfaces, he also introduced a slight irregularity with additional materials such as flax twine in the untitled canvas from 1973 (FPJM-85) or the three-dimensional levels created by the wooden boards hammered into Personnage, oiseaux, 1976 (FPJM-146).

From the 1930s on, Miró’s desire to “venture beyond painting” led him to explore other media such as prints, sculpture, and ceramics. The three-dimensional works produced by Miró in his mature period often arose from two entirely different creative processes. The terracottas and some of his clay sculptures that would eventually be cast in bronze stemmed from an age-old tradition in clay modeling. His other sculptures, on the other hand, belong to a modern art form, the assemblage, a work built from assorted objects. Some of these assemblages were later immortalized in bronze, and occasionally included modeled elements. Beginning in 1966, Miró made numerous bronze sculptures in collaboration with several foundries, but his work in sculpture covers a broad range of techniques and materials, from wood and marble to synthetic resins.

In his mature years, Miró continued to create untiringly, as we can see from the quantity and quality of his production and the many projects he undertook: painting, sculpture, prints, ceramics, murals, stained glass, tapestry, public art projects, as well as stage sets and costumes. This enabled him to continue pursuing his quest to make his art available to a broad audience, particularly through his print and sculpture series and his many public art ventures.