Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us

Fundació Joan Miró

As I am currently in Barcelona for this year’s CloudComp, I decided to check out the sights and inevitably ended up at the Fundació Joan Miró, an art museum set up by famous artist (guess who?) Joan Miró to encourage discussions on contemporary art. It turned out to be a great place to visit, and if you happen to be in Barcelona, I highly encourage you to go!

The one thing the travel guide gets right is that you really have to go early – I got there at about 9:30am or so and encountered about a 5-10 minute wait, but as I left at 1pm the line went down the block and was easily an hour wait. They offer an audio tour (the headphones) as you would expect, but I skipped on it and preferred to read all the placards instead.

A note of caveat early on to those of you that are “serious art people”: I am what you would all an “art enthusiast”. I like looking at it but I don’t know the movements or the history and couldn’t give you any indication as to why one person is considered to be a great artist and another person is not.

That being said, I do like Miró’s work, even though I can’t tell what the hell is going on most of the time. His work, especially the later works, largely focus on women and birds, but I could really only see it after the title or summary text specifically told me what it was. From what I gathered, he has the inevitable artist life – his dad wants him to be a commerce major but he instead goes to art school. There, he refines his techniques and eventually joins up with the Surrealists in Paris. He apparently likes their general ideas but isn’t a fully committed member, but does use umbrellas in his works, which is also apparently the symbol of the Surrealist movement. Here’s an example of his style:

Miró starts off as a Realist, meticulously drawing lots of detail in his works, but after he joins the Surrealists, his style becomes greatly simplified, to the point where only a dozen brush strokes are typical in his works. He stresses that they’re all chosen very carefully, and as he meticulously kept track  of all his sketches he made before he drew the real things, I would concur with him. In his later years, he maintains this minimalist quality but moves on to other mediums, large scale works and bronzes, due to contracts he receives or new friends he makes, respectively. He also takes up many monuments and public works in his later years. Interestingly, people like to lump him in with the Abstract movement but he rejected that label – again, I can’t get as much out of that as you might, but I thought it was interesting at least.

Most of the museum catalogs his work, and the few pieces that aren’t by him are either by his friends or one special room about an up-and-comer, Marcus  Coates, that has some very oddly interesting work that I unfortunately can’t describe that well.

Unfortunately, photos are a no-go in most of the museum – outside is ok but otherwise it’s not allowed. But if you have the cash, you can get postcards of most of the well-known pieces to take home.

So once again, if you end up in the area, I would definitely recommend checking it out! It’s in Montjuïc and once you take the Funicular up to it, you should start seeing signs for the Fundació right away. Enjoy!