Joan Miró once wrote: “I dream of a large studio”. 18 years later, after having left his native Barcelona for Mallorca, Miró’s dream studio was built from the designs of his friend, the architect Josep Lluis Sert. The studio’s entire design process was carried out through a series of letters, with Sert working from exile in New York and Miró in Mallorca, where he retreated following the Spanish Civil War.
Although perhaps overshadowed by fellow Spaniards Picasso and Dali, Miró was a key figure in both modernist and surrealist painting, and a prodigious one at that. He painted a seemingly never-ending procession of floating eyes, spirals and strange shapes until he died, aged 90, having worked in his Sert-designed studio for over two decades.
Crammed with small pieces of furniture, work tools, easels, notebooks, newspaper cuttings and postcards, the studio today is much like Miró left it in 1983. Now, part of it has been recreated for an immersive new exhibition in London, with 22 original paintings and drawings shown among replicas of the artist’s personal belongings, including postcards and Mallorcan clay whistles, all of which have been meticulously recreated by set designers. Also on display are a series of photographs taken by Jean Marie del Moral.
Miró’s Studio is coordinated by Barcelona-based gallery Mayoral and curated by Elvira Camara and Miró’s grandson, Joan Punyet Miró. Although thoughtful, as an installation it lacks a certain atmosphere, and has none of the drama of Lucian Freud or Francis Bacon’s paint-encrusted workspaces. The draw here is in Sert and Miró’s longstanding, long-distance friendship, which is not only inseparable from the story of the artist’s atelier, but also the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona Sert later went on to design.
Miró’s Studio is on at Galeria Mayoral in London until 12 February, and in New York from 3 March.