Fundació Miró

Sert Studio

“My dream, once I am able to settle down somewhere, is to have a large studio, not so much for reasons of brightness, northern light, and so on, which I don’t care about, but in order to have enough room to hold many canvases, because the more I work, the more I want to work(1).

This quote from Miró in 1938 is an eloquent statement of his desire to have a studio of his own. His dream did not begin to be realized until 1954, when Miró decided to move from Barcelona to Palma and asked his friend the architect Josep Lluís Sert to design his studio.

Miró and Sert had met in 1932, and from then on had a fruitful and lasting personal and professional connection, which was reinforced by their common interests, particularly their urge to integrate art and architecture and their interest in teamwork. In 1937, Sert designed the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic for the Paris World’s Fair, a building that was charged with political meaning, for which Miró painted a large-format oil mural, The Reaper. Catalan Peasant in Revolt. The end of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship forced Sert into exile in the United States, where he would later be appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Sert and Miró exchanged some of their ideas about the project’s conception in their correspondence. Miró’s brother-in-law Enric Juncosa supervised the project in Palma.

Sert designed a building that adapts to the terraced slope in the land. Miró provided his input on practical issues, for instance, suggesting that Sert consider the local climate and its effect on the conditions inside the studio. He asked to have a clear separation between a work space and a storage area where he could put his pieces away for a while and gain some distance from them. He reminded Sert that in designing the work surface he had to bear in mind the size of his large format paintings, such as the Cincinnati mural. In the fall of 1956, construction of the studio designed by Sert was completed and Miró was thrilled by the final result.

Using numerous sketches and plans, Sert had designed for Miró a studio on a human scale, merging tradition with innovation. The concrete structure strikes a contrast with other materials traditionally used in the Mediterranean, such as stone or clay. The L-shaped floor plan is laid out on two levels and covered by a vaulted roof. The undulating roof vaults add sinuous movement to the building’s even geometry. All the façades have a highly visual, even chromatic treatment, particularly the one facing south, which juxtaposes white concrete with the color of clay and the blue, yellow and red of the woodwork. Ultimately, Sert was exploring a new language that ventured beyond the rigidity and limitations of strictly orthodox functionalism, leaning towards a more visual, sculptural architecture, in keeping with his notion that “architecture itself can become a piece of sculpture” (2).

In order to create a space that would induce creativity, Miró began populating his studio with a highly heterogeneous ensemble of natural and artificial elements that coexisted in perfect harmony with the utensils for his work. Even now, the studio shows Miró's creative environment, and the canvases, oils, watercolors, pencils, brushes, and sponges continue to relate to his “collection” of highly diverse objects: postcards, newspaper cuttings, objects found in nature such as stones, butterflies, shells, Mediterranean folk culture artifacts such as the clay whistle figurines known as siurells, palm leaves, nativity figures, or objects from faraway cultures such as Hopi kachinas dolls or Oceanic masks. At times Miró would use one of these objects, such as the turkey, as a point of departure for a piece, and actually immortalized some of them in his sculptures. The studio also recreates the creative process followed by the artist, who usually worked on several pieces at the same time. In addition, these works illustrate his ongoing passion for experimenting with new materials and techniques, incorporating them into his artistic activity, even during his later years.

(1) “Je rêve d’un grand atelier”, en XXe siècle , nº 2, París, May 1938, p. 25-28.
(2) Josep Maria Rovira, José Luis Sert, 1901-1983 , Milano: Electa, 2000, p. 251.