Mallorca, a place of freedom, creation and retreat for Joan Miró
Joan Miró’s relationship with the island of Mallorca started the moment he was born. From a very young age, he often used to travel to Tarragona (Montroig) and Mallorca, places whose landscapes would have a profound effect on him. Drawn by the pull of the land, light and sky in both places, they became a source of inspiration, giving rise to some of the characteristic visual images and symbols seen in his work.
Miró’s long and intermittent relationship with Mallorca can be defined by three key milestones: his childhood and youth when he stayed with his maternal grandmother in Soller; his marriage to islander Pilar Juncosa in 1929; and lastly the period when he made the island his home in 1956 through to his death in 1983.
For Joan Miró, Mallorca represented an extraordinary place for creation in peace and freedom, which combined everything the artist was looking for. At the age of 63 he finally settled in Son Abrines, Cala Major, where he worked in the studio of his dreams, known as the Sert Sudio.
Thanks to the generosity of Joan Miró and his wife Pilar Juncosa, who donated the artist’s workshops and everything they contained in 1981, today Mallorcans and visitors from all corners of the globe can enjoy a unique place in the world. Thus, the Miró Territory, comprising the collection and his studios, is a moment of Miró’s creative process that has been frozen in time giving us a privileged insight into his thoughts and a peak behind the scenes. What had remained hidden for almost thirty years is now open to the public and can be visited. There is an emphasis on the creative process and the atmosphere of the place. Here the visitor can discover and feel Miró, something not found in most other museums and art centres around the world.
The resulting work in this phase covering almost three decades is non-conformist during which Miró turned away from the conventional plastic arts. This artistic breakaway and broadening of his horizons is reflected by a greater independence, freedom of expression and radicalism. Close to 7,000 works currently comprise the Foundation’s collection, including paintings, sculpture, drawings, objects and graphic art.
The Miró Mallorca collection also has three extraordinary buildings that constitute one of the most valuable architectural ensembles of Mallorca. The Sert Studio, designed by friend and architect Josep Lluís Sert and built between 1954 and 1956; Son Boter, a late 18th-century Mallorcan house, which the artist used it as a second painting and sculpture studio; and the Moneo building, the Foundation’s headquarters, designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 1992. The first two buildings have been declared ‘Goods of Cultural Heritage’ (BIC according to its Spanish acronym).
The dream studio; Taller Sert: the project was carried out by Josep Lluís Sert (1954-1956), renowned architect and friend of Miró, representative of the Modern Architectural Movement and, at that time, dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Sert conceived a building that adapted to the terraced plots of Cala Major. Miró advised on the practical aspects through a more than abundant correspondence between them both. He suggested that he should take into account the climate of Mallorca and ambient conditions of the studio. He requested a clear separation between the work area and storeroom that would allow him to distance himself from the fabrics he had stored there, and reminded him that the work surface had to take into account the dimensions of the large format paintings, such as his mural for Cincinnati. In the autumn of 1956 the building of the studio designed by Sert was finished and Miró was overjoyed with the end result.
Son Boter: is a typical Mallorcan ‘posesión’ (country estate) built in the 18th century that Joan Miró bought in 1959 thanks to the prize money he had received a year earlier on winning the Guggenheim International Award.
This space adjacent to the house at Son Abrines allowed him to expand the working area of the Sert Studio and gain intimacy, as well as create and store works of large dimensions. As Miró said in a letter to the architect and friend Josep Lluís Sert “I’ve just bought Son Boter, the magnificent house behind ours. Apart from being a good investment, it shelters me from any annoying neighbours.”
The Moneo building: the headquarters of Fundació Miró Mallorca, opened its doors to the public on 19 December 1992. Designed by renowned architect Rafael Moneo, winner of the 1996 Pritzker Architecture Prize it was built following the donation of land by Pilar Juncosa, Miró’s widow, together with 42 works of art that were then auctioned by Sotheby’s to raise money for the centre. Thanks to this new gesture of immense generosity, today we can enjoy these unique spaces of great artistic, architectural and historical value.
From the very entrance, he attempted to conceal the surrounding buildings from visitors. When Moneo visited the site of the new headquarters, he was dismayed by the disastrous urban development that had gone on and this conditioned its design.
Miró in first person: A publication that defines us and brings us closer to you
Joan Miró himself accompanies the reader or visitor on their journey through the spaces and the collection of the Foundation, speaking in the first person through the collection of quotations, excerpts from conversations, interviews, writings, letters, notebooks and annotations, interspersed on a visual and very attractive narrative. This is the new publication by the Fundació Miró Mallorca. A book-object, it makes a perfect gift for lovers of modern art and is divided into four exquisite coloured books in Miró’s trademark colours; the first, dedicated to Miró’s relationship with Mallorca until the creation of the Foundation, and the other three dedicated to each one of the comprising spaces: The Sert Studio, Son Boter and the Moneo building. Three buildings, three personalities, three moments in a single Foundation. The four books are presented in a cover-box that symbolises the institution itself and although they are independent of each other, form a whole collection that it is essential to understanding and appreciating, if possible to do so anymore, the life and work of Joan Miró on our island.
Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca
© Rubén Perdomo © Pep Escoda