The Miró Foundation in Palma

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 Just before this Christmas, ten major works (sculptures and paintings) were withdrawn from the foundation where they had been on loan from the Miró family’s holdings. One of the withdrawn works (Toile brûlée II) will travel to London soon, where it will be on display in a major retrospective exhibition of work by Joan Miró at the Tate Modern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.

The Miró Foundation in Palma

The Pebre Bord Tradition

In the past, let’s say a hundred years ago, or even only fifty, Mallorca’s food consumption was almost completely satisfied from home grown produce. In fact, when we came to live here, almost 25 years ago, the local markets hardly offered anything imported from afar. In those days long since gone, September was the time to harvest the Pebre Bord, a local variety of organically grown paprika used traditionally as a condiment and as the preservative of the Mallorcan Sobrassada. Then, it was the custom to string the peppers onto long strings of thread for the purpose of drying. The façades of country houses up and down the island were decorated with hundreds of those threaded peppers making for an unusual and very attractive decoration.

The tradition has almost vanished over the last twenty years but now seems to be reanimated and reclaimed. Many Mallorcan farmers have again joined the bandwaggon in growing, drying and selling the local Mallorcan paprika and thus, resisting the cheaper but inferior imports from Morocco, Turkey and Brazil.

Son Boter used to be a typical Mallorcan farmhouse. Now the building offers an image of how things would have looked in the past, being perfectly decorated with stringed pebre bord peppers (see photo above). Son Boter is now part of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca on the outskirts of Palma. The installation can be visited for free from now until October 31st. Once you are there, you might as well enter into the house and see some of the studio space that Joan Miró used between 1959 and 1983, and possibly visit the Fundació’s museum as well even though, the visit is not obligatory. There is an entry admission charge for the Miró museum.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 16th, 2010. The time was 19:28:29.

The Pebre Bord Tradition

Aigües Tortes

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The Galeria Pelaires in Palma de Mallorca is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. The gallery was founded by Pep Pinya in 1969 and has since developed into a formidable outlet for contemporary and 20th century art in Mallorca and indeed, in Spain. I understand that King Juan Carlos I acquires some of his art from this Palma gallery.

When the art gallery proprietor-to-be first discovered that premises were available where later Sala Pelaires was opened, he initially thought of opening a floristry. He had previously been making his money in the fashion business. However, it was upon the insistence of his then wife, Nini Quetglas, that Pinya tried his hand at modern art, hitherto without much representation in Spain. Spanish dictator, Franco was still alive at that time and many artists had emmigrated to neighbouring France. Sala Pelaires was the first gallery in Mallorca showing work by Joan Miró. In fact, I think it was mainly through Pinya’s association with Miró and his friends (Picasso, Calder et al.) that the gallery became so successful.

The exhibition at the Centre Cultural Contemporani Pelaires celebrating the 40th anniversary is called Aigües Tortes (Distorted Waters).

Two contemporary artists – but which art is not contemporary at the time of its making? – are the protagonists of this show: Rebecca Horn (Germany) and Yannis Kounellis (Greece/Italy).

My photo shows a detail of Rebecca Horn’s sculpture Baño de Gotas de Rocío Vistas a Través de la Bola de Cristal (A Bath in Dew as Seen Through the Cristal Ball). The exhibition will be open until the end of September. A visit to the exhibition is highly recommended. Whilst enjoying the art pieces you can also appreciate the grandeza of the premises, Can Sureda d’Artà, a beautiful town palace dating from the 17th century and, at some time in the past, a Colegio de Señoritas de la Anunciación run by nuns.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 13th, 2008. The time was 12:42:27.

Aigües Tortes

Calder, Nancy And Miró

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A large scale mobile sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is on permanent exhibition in Palma’s Jardins de s’Hort del Rei, just below the Palau de l’Almudaina in Passeig Antoni Maura. The sculpture is called Nancy (1972); the object was part of an exhibition of Calder’s work in Sala Pelaires (a Palma gallery) in September/October of 1972. The American artist enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Mallorca’s Joan Miró, who in turn was instrumental in getting Calder’s exhibition organised at Pelaires. Both artists had met and become friends whilst living and working in Paris (France) in 1928.

Miró persuaded his friend Calder to donate the sculpture to the Ajuntament de Palma in 1973 but, as so often, the bureaucrats did not show much enthusiasm about the present. A sizeable amount of customs duties and excise tax would have had to be paid. But luckily some bigshots in Madrid considered the work of art worthy of being classified as a patrimonio nacional, thus allowing the sculpture to be exempt from import duties. Now, the townhall in Palma graciously accepted the free gift.

The artist’s wish was to have his mobile displayed in Palma’s new Parque del Mar, between the Cathedral and the sea, allowing for the winds of the sea breeze to gently keep Nancy moving. But the only place where the mobile was ever exhibited under the custody of the Palma mandarins were the s’Hort del Rei gardens from 1974 till 1985, and again from 1994 until today.

If you want to go and see the Calder mobile, you might also wish to pay a visit to Joan Miró’s nearby work Monument a la dona, often refered to as Miró’s Egg, just outside the Grand Café Cappuccino in Carrer Conquistador.

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The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2009. The time was 15:00:16. The photo (bottom) shows the cover of a cataloge for an 2004-05 exhibition of works by Calder and Miró at Fondation Beyeler, Basel (Switzerland) and Phillips Collection in Washington DC (USA). This image was borrowed from the Amazon.com website. Thank you very much.

Calder, Nancy And Miró

Día de las Mujeres

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Today, March 8th, the world celebrates the Día de las Mujeres (International Women’s Day). Hooray!

To mark the occasion, the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca is putting on a day of Open Doors today, from 10h00 until 15h00. The exhibition on show there is called Joan Miró. Evocació de la imatge femenina. Some 90 sculptures, paintings and drawings from the Catalan artist’s hand (1893-1983) can be seen there, admission free. The show was inaugurated last December on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Miró’s death, and will be on display until March 15th, when the exhibition will terminate.

Women as a theme runs through almost all of Miró’s work. One example can be seen in my photo: Maternité, a bronze cast from 1973. This particular sculpture passed into the ownership of the Spanish nation some years ago as part of a settlement of death duties between the artist’s family and the Spanish tax authorities. At the moment, the bronze cast is placed in the Jardin del Consolat de Mar. Unfortunately, no-one can ever go and see Miró’s sculpture there because the Consolat and its gardens are off-limits to us, the general public.

The good news is, however, that earlier this week an agreement was signed between the Govern Balear and the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, under the terms of which this sculpture will now be lent to the Fundació Miró for a period of one year, but possibly even up to twenty years, without affecting its proprietorship. I think it is much better for pieces of art to be on display where the public can see them, and even more so if they are important pieces by important artists, as this one undoubtedly is.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 1st, 2009. The time was 16:30:36.

Día de las Mujeres

Miró’s Egg

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Joan Miró is the artist of the sculpture Monument a la dona (1972), reputedly the work of art most often photographed by tourists visiting Palma de Mallorca. The public has given the Monument to the Woman a nickname, though: the Egg. It’s easy to see why that should be so.

The city of Palma de Mallorca is the custodian of the artist’s Mallorcan legacy.

You can visit the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca in Palma’s suburb, Cala Major, in Calle Joan de Saridakis, 29 (just beyond Porto Pi). Opening hours during the Winter season are Tuesday to Saturday, 10h00 to 18h00, and Sunday 10h00 to 15h00. Admission fees are 5 € for the general public, or 1,80 € for Palma residents.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The date: January 11th, 2008. The time was 13:35:40.

Miró’s Egg

Spirit and Genius

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Most art museums offer you the artists’ work without any reference to the artists themselves. At the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca, in Palma de Mallorca, you are also allowed to enter the late Joan Miró’s (1893-1983) former studio. There, you can feel the spirit and smell the genius, if you are that way inclined.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca. The date: January 14th, 2006. The time was 12:36:31.

Spirit and Genius