Fundació Miró

Moneo Building

Joan Miró’s studios were neither appropriate nor large enough to show the collection of works bequeathed to the Fundació by the Catalan artist. The lack of an appropriate space for exhibiting the collection made it necessary to erect a new building. The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of Miró’s widow, Pilar Juncosa, who donated a plot of land and several of her late husband’s works to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1986, so that the proceeds would go towards the Fundació. One year later, Rafael Moneo, then Chairman of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, was commissioned to design the main building of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró on a plot adjacent to Miró’s studios, donated by Pilar Juncosa.

Between 1956, when Miró settled permanently in Mallorca, and 1986, the area surrounding Miró’s studios had suffered a considerable decline. Nature had gradually given way to unappealing high-rise buildings. In the summer of 1986, when Moneo visited the plot for the new Fundació project, he was struck by the disastrous overdevelopment in the area, and it had an effect on his design. From the moment one enters the Fundació’s walls, Moneo’s construction attempts to conceal the view of the surrounding buildings from the visitor's eye. This goal determined and conditioned the entire design for the Fundació, which is composed of two clearly distinct yet closely connected architectural elements made of concrete. On the one hand, Moneo projected a three-level linear construction with a flat roof, with a single opening facing north and a south-facing portico provided with brise-soleils to filter the sunlight, and, on the other, a star-shaped volume with a roof covered in water, a trompe-l’oeil of sorts that appears to draw the sea closer to the visitor in an attempt to emulate the view that Miró enjoyed before the area was overbuilt. The star-shaped floor plan is reminiscent of a citadel, fending off the hostile urban surroundings with its ramparts. However, the atmosphere inside the Espai Estrella could not be more unlike that of the fortress-like exterior. The concrete walls filter light with a double layer of exterior brise-soleils covered on the inside with sheets of translucent alabaster. When the sun pours into the building, this star-shaped space becomes a resonance chamber for the light bouncing off the surrounding pools. The low windows only allow visitors to make visual contact with the small pools that partly surround them, and with the gardens.

Moneo’s building enables the integration of art into architecture, in keeping with Miró's aims. The exterior of one of the points in the star-shaped volume is decorated with a ceramic mural inspired by Miró’s work and created by the ceramist Maria Antònia Carrió. The gardens partly recreate the lost natural environment and allow for a fusion of art and nature which Miró had always advocated. In an interview granted in 1951, Miró stated: “A sculpture must stand outdoors, surrounded by nature"(1). Miró’s sculptures follow this principle and merge into the landscape.

The building designed by Moneo provides the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró with exhibition spaces, a library, offices, a shop, and a café. The café also houses a ceramic mural made by Joan Gardy Artigas from a sketch for the 1947 Cincinnati mural painting. The new venue for the Fundació opened on December 19th, 1992.

(1) Interview with Joan Miró by Georges Charbonnier, 1951, in Margit Rowell (ed.), Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, London: Thames and Hudson, 1987, p. 221.