Thinking about Joan Miró means thinking about Barcelona: the link between the artist and the city has been very strong, and also very prolific: in addition to the Foundation that bears his name, traces of the Catalan artist can be found scattered throughout the city. There is nothing better than a walk to discover the places Miró frequented, as well as some of his most emblematic works in Barcelona.
Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893, and died on the island of Mallorca on December 25, 1983, at the age of 89. The artist is buried in the Montjuïc cemetery, facing its Mediterranean Sea, not far from the place where a large part of his artistic work is collected: the Fundació Miró. Painter, sculptor, engraver and ceramist, Miró was a complete artist, becoming one of the leading exponents of the surrealist movement. For experts, his work comes from memory and the subconscious, shaped with a great fantasy and imagination, combining geometric shapes with bright colors, such as red, yellow and blue, to convert them into art: simple and colored signs in able to resume the world of childhood.
The early years
Although his early years in Barcelona did not have a particularly happy start, over time his relationship improved, until he promised, in 1971, that his legacy to the city would be for the land, the sky and the sea, creating three different works to welcome all those who arrived in the Catalan city, a promise he managed to keep. The first welcome work was placed in 1970, and is the large ceramic mural that is still preserved today on the external facade of terminal 2 of the Prat airport, to welcome travelers who had arrived in Barcelona to the city, precisely from the air.
The passage of the Crèdit and the Rambla
Our itinerary can only start in Carrer Ferrán, in the heart of the Barri Gòtic near the Plaça de Sant Jaume, to be precise at number 4 of the Passatge del Crèdit, where the house where Miró was born is located: next to the door you can see a commemorative plaque in memory of the event. The house is currently part of the Rialto Hotel. From the Passatge del Crèdit you can reach Ajuntament, in Plaça de Sant Jaume: in the inner courtyard you can see a statue of Miró, called Dona, donated by the artist to the municipality in 1982.
Moving on the Rambla, almost in front of the Liceu Theater, you can admire another work by Miró: Pla de l'Os. Trampled daily by thousands of visitors along the Rambla, and exposed to the elements of time in accordance with the artist's will. It is the work that welcomes people who arrive in the city from the sea, given its proximity to the port, and it was the second of the three reception works to be placed in Barcelona, in 1976.
Continuing along the Rambla de Catalunya you will reach Carrer del Consell de Cent. At number 335, until 2005, there was a restaurant called Orotava. Founded in 1929, it was a place frequented regularly by writers and artists, since its owner was a great lover of art, so it was common to see diners having lunch or dinner surrounded by works of art and antiquities. Miró was also among the Orotava's patrons, and the mosaic given to the owner, Homenaje, on the 50th anniversary of the Restaurante Orotava, is still preserved on the external facade of the building.
The Eixample has other testimonies of the artist's work: at the corner of Carrer de la Diputació and Carrer Entença, another painting on the sidewalk reminds us that we are facing a school named after the artist: the CEIP Joan Miró.
The Parc de Joan Miró is known as Parc de L'Escorxador, located in the left Eixample district of Barcelona and very close to Sants train station. The park extends for four blocks of the Eixample, and occupies the ancient grounds of the Barcelona General Slaughterhouse, in Catalan precisely escorxador. Here you can find the third welcome work for those arriving in the city, to be precise by train. The sculpture, located in the pond, is from 1983 and is known as Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). The park was the first public work completed in Barcelona since the return of democracy, and despite the fact that Miró was 90, he accepted the challenge of designing the sculpture inspired by his work Femme et oiseau, created around 1960. The result is a colossal reinforced concrete structure, decorated with colored ceramics, imitating the trencadís technique.
If you want to enjoy a panoramic view of the park, try going up to the terrace of the Las Arenas shopping center.
The Joan Miró Foundation is the thematic museum dedicated to the painter in Barcelona, located on Montjuïc. Here you can find more information about the museum itself, and the opening hours. Among the works in the permanent collection, which are particularly related to Barcelona, stand out 50 black and white lithographs known as the Barcelona Series, published in 1944 by a city printer. The Museum was inaugurated on 10 June 1975 and occupies a rationalist-style building by Josep Lluís Sert: it is characterized by a particular brightness, and its open spaces, making it an obligatory passage for those who travel the panoramic roads of Montjuïc.
A few steps from the foundation that bears his name, you can easily reach the Montjuïc cemetery, where the artist is buried. The cemetery itself deserves a guided tour, both to find out who is buried, with their stories, and for the artistic and architectural value of some of the tombs present.
A final connection between Miró and Barcelona is also one of the most unexpected: the logo of the Barcelona-based banking group La Caixa (which sponsors both the CaixaForum and CosmoCaixa), present in numerous streets of Barcelona, is actually part of a design by Miró, and was presented publicly in the city in 1981.