Joan Miro (1893-1983, Spanish)

Man Ray’s Joan Miro, 1930

Man Ray’s Joan Miro, 1930

Joan Miro (1893-1983, Spanish) was a Catalonian Surrealist artist born in Barcelona who produced lithographs, sculptures, ceramics and tapestries. Miro started art classes at a young age, and in 1907 enrolled in the fine art academy La Llotja against his father’s wishes. In 1918, he gave his first solo exhibition, which met with unsuccessful reviews and with some of his works being defaced. By 1920, he had moved to Montparnasse and joined the artist community there. Influenced by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne,  he also met Picasso and collaborated with Max Ernst. Later Matisse would even represent Miro and introduce his work to the US.

Miro’s works rely primarily on automatic drawing and symbolic, dream-like compositions which would align him to the Surrealist group. His style is anti-bourgeois.  Initially, Miro’s works were apolitical; however, in 1937, they changed. With Germany’s invasion of France, Miro moved to Normandy in 1939. And with the eventual invasion of Paris, Miro fled back to Franco’s Spain in 1941.

Miro cannot really be called a true cat lover even though many of his works include felines. An unfortunate story is that Miro had a cat that he accidentally locked into his house and went away for six months. When he came back, he found the cat dead and desiccated with a horrible pain filled face after having died of thirst and hunger. He took the body and hung it up on the kitchen wall seemingly to remind himself of the inevitability of death, or as a reminder of his own neglect.  Who can say? Perhaps Miro included cats in his works as a tribute to this poor tortured creature and his own guilt.

In the 1928 painting The Dutch Interiors, Miro borrowed from Jan Steen’s The Dancing Lesson. Miro turns his focus on the human and animal subjects of the painting, and instead of the cat being the central figure, it is swallowed by the movement and enjoyment of the dancing lesson itself which are central.  

Joan Miró (D'après La leçon de danse du chat de Jan Steen) (1928)

D’après La leçon de danse du chat de Jan Steen

Miro loved the sky and moon and this is represented in Le Petit Chat au Claire de la Lune, 1951. Many more of his lithographs have cats as their subjects especially those created in 1975. 

Le petit chat au claire de la lune , 1951 Joan Miró

Le petit chat au claire de la lune

Ernest Hemingway, who purchased one of Miro’s works, compared him to James Joyce’s Ulysses saying, “It has in it all that you feel about  Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there. Noone else has been able to paint these two very opposing things.”  Miró died on December 25, 1983, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


Farmers Wife Kitchen Cat Rabbit, Joan Miro

The Farmers Wife, Kitchen, Cat, Rabbit


Joan Mirò. Détail du tableau ''La Fermière''. 1922-1923 detail of the Farmer's Wife

The Farmer’s Wife


Harlequin's Carnival, 1925, Joan Miro

Harlequin’s Carnival 1925


Detail, Harlequin's Carnival, 1925 Joan Miro, cat art

Harlequin’s Carnival


Barbare Dans La Neige 1976 by Joan Miro, cat art

Barbare Dans La Neige
Barbare in the Snow


woman and cat, femme au chat joan miro, cat art

Femme au Chat
Woman and Cat


Joan Miró - Le Chat Coquin (The naugthy cat)

Le Chat Coquin (The Naughty Cat)


Le Chat Heureux (Happy Cat) Zufriedene Katze, 1975

Le Chat Heureux (Happy Cat) Zufriedene Katze 1975


Le Chat qui s' ègare, Joan Miro

Le Chat qui s’ ègare


Joan Miro Neugieriges Katzenkind, Curious Cat, 1975

Neugieriges Katzenkind, Curious Cat, 1975


Joan Miro, Cat 2



Joan Miro, Cat

Cat and Sun


Joan Miro, Chats



Joan Miro, Dancing Cats

Dancing Cats


Joan Miro, Jumping Cat

Jumping Cat


Joan Miró. Spanish. 1893 - 1983 Cats, 1941

Cats, 1941


Joan Miro, cat



Le chat et la ficelle, Joan Miro

Le chat et la ficelle


L'emancipatation definitive de la queue du chat, joan-miró-

L’emancipatation definitive de la queue du chat


cat Pen Ink Drawing Joan Miro



Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature?  Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 



Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


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