Twenty-seven years ago, in 1983, I happened to be spending Christmas in Mallorca when I was shocked to read in the local papers that Joan Miró i Ferrà had died the day before, on December 25th, 1983, aged 90. Even though Miró was born in Montroig, southwest of Barcelona in the province of Tarragona, he had links to Mallorca. His mother’s family had come from Sóller, a place that he often visited in his childhood.
The artist settled in Palma de Mallorca permanently in 1956 and worked here for the remaining 27 years of his life. In 1981, Joan Miró and his wife Pilar Juncosa donated the artist’s studios, together with all the art works, objects, and documents they contained, to the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca. A new museum building was designed and built for the Miró foundation in Palma and inaugurated in December, 1992. The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca is a municipal body, administered by the town hall of Palma whose political intentions sometimes seem to be in conflict with the artist’s heirs, depending on the political party in power. Just before this Christmas, ten major works (sculptures and paintings) were withdrawn from the foundation where they had been on loan from the Miró family’s holdings. One of the withdrawn works (Toile brûlée II) will travel to London soon, where it will be on display in a major retrospective exhibition of work by Joan Miró at the Tate Modern from April 2011. Already in 2007, the Miró family had decided to donate the artist’s entire library to the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona with some 1,750 books, and not to the foundation in Palma.
The Fundació Joan Miró was set up in Barcelona in 1975. The foundation there has since then been declared a museum of national importance and is today the place with the largest accumulation of works by the artist anywhere, with 14,000 obras housed, including 8,000 drawings, 200 paintings, 180 sculptures plus a number of textiles, ceramics and graphic prints.
Although the Miró foundation and museum in Palma cannot compete with the one in Barcelona, a visit is still to be recommended. The work on display in Palma is captivating but, even more importantly, the artist’s studio (photo top) is open for visits, as is Son Boter, Miró’s large country house where some rooms are painted with large and original charcoal wall drawings executed by the man himself, some thirty or forty years ago (photo bottom).
Post Script: Later today, I read that another great artist had died yesterday: Jim Bird (Bloxwich, UK, 1937). I believe the two artists had met during their lifetimes on a number of occasions. One cannot compare their body of work but, they each were special in their own particular ways.
The photos were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 16th, 2010. The time was 17:25:25 and 17:31:21, respectively.