Joan Miró was born in Barcelona in 1893. His mother was Mallorquin, as was his wife Pilar. He loved Mallorca, describing it as ‘a truly beautiful island. In some places, it still feels as fresh as if the world had just been created’. In 1954, Miró settled here permanently. He died in Mallorca on 25 December 1983.
When you live on the island it’s easy to become blasé about Miró. His distinctive biomorphic forms and geometric shapes are everywhere, reproduced or hijacked to inspire brand identities. There’s even a Miró hotel in Cala Major, a touristic suburb of Palma near the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró that uses his signature whorls to particularly eye-watering effect, reproducing them in red neon on its façade and on corridor carpets you wouldn’t want to walk on if you’d had a few glasses of wine.
Fair enough, Miró’s colours are simple, bold and expressive and lend themselves to the Mediterranean environment. The shapes he uses are kind of cute. But his art shouldn’t be regarded as frozen in time or blithely reduced to a graphic approach.
Miro was given to continuous experimentation and working in multiple media, from ceramics to bronze installations. Outside of Spain, Miró is respected as an avant-garde artist. He inspired Color Field painters like Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell as well as the British St Ives school, especially the remarkable Roger Hilton.
So I personally salute the permanent Miró exhibition in Café Miró at Deià’s Belmond La Residencia for inviting us to look at the artist and his work with fresh eyes.
Celebrating Miró’s reputation in Deià
The Café was inaugurated in 2015 with the fantastic ‘Souvenir de la Torre Eiffel’ and the ‘Serie Mallorca’ was exhibited in Sa Tafona art gallery. According to Juan Waelder, sculptor and artist in residence at the hotel, ‘The Café Miró was conceived as a cultural platform from which to produce events related to him and his world. We will offer lectures, seminars, book presentations, small concerts and everything that helps to enhance and celebrate the reputation of Joan Miró.’
As Juan puts it, ‘This collection is special two or three times over. Nothing like it exists in any hotel in the world. There are 33 original, carefully selected pieces in the Café and also the restaurant. The criteria for framing each one was to give it a special personality so the collection looks like it’s in a home rather than an art gallery or museum.’
I asked Juan was Miró meant to him and he said simply ‘Joan Miró was the grandfather anyone would like to have.
Belmond La Residencia is a wonderful place to view art and the Café Miró is no exception. And when you’ve finished admiring the work, take tea on the terrace and gaze out on a splendid view of Deià and its surrounding landscape.
Robert Graves and Miró
We can assume that Miró came to Deià. It would be strange if he hadn’t. But he didn’t visit his friend Robert Graves although Tomás, the poet’s son, recalls his mother and father visiting Miró in Palma in 1971. This was the occasion of a bizarre break in at Canellun, a story for another time.
Graves and Miró became friends in 1967 when the poet was among several who contributed to a special edition of the Majorca Daily Bulletin celebrating the artist. Responding to the tribute, Miró wrote ‘We have to do things. We’ve got to keep on working, fighting for the culture of these islands.’
Which is as true today as it was almost 50 years ago.