Joan Miró was born in Montroig, near Barcelona in 1893. He came from a long line of hardworking craftsmen, and his father also worked as a goldsmith and a watchmaker. Although Miró did poorly at school, he began drawing regularly at the age of eight. In 1907 he attended the Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona where he received encouragement from his teachers. After a brief period working as a clerk, he attended the Gali School of Art in 1912, also in Barcelona.
After Miró completed his artistic education in Barcelona, he produced portraits and landscapes in the Fauve manner, a style of painting popular around 1900 that emphasized brilliant and aggressive colours. He had his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1918 and later that year he became a member of the Agrupacio Courbet, to which the ceramist Joseph Llorenz Artigas belonged.
In 1919 Miró made his first trip to Paris and thereafter he spent the winters in Paris and the summers in Montroig. He met members of the Dada group, an artistic and literary movement which sought to expand the boundaries of conventional art. His first one-man show in Paris was held in 1921 and his paintings of this period reflect cubist influences.
The change in his art was furthered by his encounter with the works of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Jean Arp. Miró's aim was to rediscover the sources of human feeling, to create poetry by way of painting, using a vocabulary of signs and symbols, plastic metaphors (an implied similarity between two different things), and dream images to express definite themes. He had a genuine sense of humour and a lively wit, which also characterized his art. His chief consideration was social, to get close to the great masses of humanity, and he was deeply convinced that art can make a genuine appeal only when returning to the roots of experience.
Miró was connected with the surrealists from 1924 to 1930. Surrealism was a source of inspiration to him, and he made use of its methods; however, he never accepted any surrealist "doctrine," or teachings. Rather, his art, like Klee's, seems more connected to modern fantastic art.
During the Spanish Civil War he moved to Paris. The following year he created a large mural, the Reaper, for the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exposition in Paris. His work began to achieve great power through increased simplicity, intensified colour and abstraction.
Miró died in Palma de Majorca in 1983, at the age of ninety. He enjoyed international acclaim during his long and productive career. He was one of the many outstanding Spaniards who, by belonging to the School of Paris, helped to establish the high esteem in which it was held during the first half of the twentieth century.