Currently the word Barcelona is associated with design and also with architecture. Every year, many people come to Barcelona to admire the Modernism and the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí, but the artistic facet of Barcelona goes beyond Gaudí and Modernism.
There are artists who were born in the city or who lived here who were famous worldwide. One of these artists is Joan Miró.
Joan Miró was born in Barcelona and discreetly became a world-renowned artist.
His childhood in Barcelona
Miró was born in the Passage of the Credit, very close to the Plaza Sant Jaume, in Ciutat Vella.
How was the childhood of Joan Miró? As a child he painted houses and animals and as an elder, trees with ears, dogs looking at the moon and women-birds. According to the experts in Miró, it will be in his childhood when he will form his gaze on the world, a look that he will keep and recover as a record of childhood innocence.
He went to school very close to his house and already showed interest in drawing. We know that the school was located on Calle Regomir, 13, a 15th century building on a narrow street. It will not be an easy time and Miró himself remembers his time at school as an anguish. In fact, to escape this anguish he will join drawing classes with a teacher called M. Civil. The first drawings that are conserved are from 1901.
What do you want to do for a living when you grow up?
All of us have heard this question many times, and Joan Miró could not be less. It will be this important decision that will reveal great disagreements with his father.
When it was time to decide what to do when he was older, at the age of fourteen, he proposed to become an artist, but his father wanted Miró to be “someone of benefit”. At the beginning of the last century, the paternal authority was as unquestionable as the bible, so they reached an agreement: they would study day trade and at night art, in La Llotja, the reputed art school that is still open today. It is for this reason that between 1907 and 1910 he combines his studies and will be in the Llotja where he will meet Modest Urgell (he was one of his teachers)
In fact, Miquel Miró allows his son to study at La Llotja with the ambition for young Joan become a goldsmith like him, or thanks to accounting studies, maybe would work in London with his uncle. This is why English will be another of the important subjects in Joan Miró’s education.
The influence of his teachers
The experience of combining goldsmithing and accounting was not very successful until, thanks to his professor José Pascó, he began experimenting with color. According to Miró himself, the day he understood what can be done with the power of color, he had a kind of epiphany. Pascó gave more importance to the perception than to the technique, which fitted very well with Miró.
Who also had a great influence on Joan Miró was Modest Urgell, who was 64 years old when he was Miró’s teacher. When the weather was fine, the students and the teacher went to the Barceloneta or the Somorrostro to paint. In fact, if we look at works by Urgell we can see what elements impressed the young Miró: long lines drawing a horizon, the separation of the painting in two horizontal lines and the presence of the moon, the sun and / or the stars.
Everything that has to do with creation from instinctive perception fits like a ring with Miró, but when it comes to doing academic exercises, the young future artist does not get it. Academicism and conventionalism are not its strong point.
That is why he was not encouraged to continue with the artistic side because, despite having a lot of talent for color, he did not have much skill for drawing. To improve his technique, he decides to look for a job and perfect the drawing during free hours.
But nothing will go as planned.
A short career … as an accountant
In fact, his father finds him a job as an accountant apprentice in the Dalmau and Oliveres drugstore. It must be said that father and son were living a tense moment, since Miquel Miró came to follow his son to make sure that when leaving home, he went to work.
In this context, and after spending a few months alone in Barcelona while his parents were in Mallorca, Miró will exhibit for the first time a painting of his in Barcelona. This is Paissatge (Landscape) and is currently in the Harvard Museum.
This act of affirmation as an artist will create strong confrontations with his father, and in 1912, frustrated and tired of the continuous discussions, Joan Miró got sick with typhus. His recovery in the farmhouse of his parents in Montroig del Camp will mark a before and after in his life.
To be continued …
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