Visiting an artist’s studio can be an inspiring experience, becoming yet more poignant after their death. Henry Moore’s studio at Perry Green in Hertfordshire draws hundreds of visitors each summer, while Francis Bacon’s London studio, transported to Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery, continues to fascinate art lovers. Now the Mallorcan studio of Spanish artist and sculptor Joan Miró (second and third pictures) is being temporarily recreated in London by a Barcelona-based gallery as part of an immersive selling exhibitionfrom Thursday January 21 to Saturday February 13.
This imaginative initiative comes exactly 60 years after the artist established his atelier on the island. Having lived in various places in France and Spain, Miró settled in Mallorca in 1956 after taking his family there during the second world war. His studio offered a very personal retreat, where he worked tirelessly until his death in 1983. “When he closed the door behind him, he knew he was cutting off all contact with the outside world and entering into his imaginary universe. This imaginary space – his reality – was arranged against a background of Mediterranean light, colours and shapes,” says the art historian Joan Punyet Miró.
As the artist’s grandson, Miró has collaborated closely with Elvira Camara, director of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca and curator of Mayoral Galeria d’Art’s exhibition in London. “I will never forget when I walked with my grandfather into his studio in Palma de Mallorca on April 20 1978,” he told me. “He was 85 and I was only 10. These Joan Miró studios can be visited today at the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca and remain as my grandfather left them when he died, aged 90, on December 25 1983. Mayoral is making this studio available for Londoners to visit during the exhibition. It is indeed a unique experience that I highly recommend to all those curious art lovers looking for something inspirational and challenging.”
“Our aim is to be as historically accurate as possible,” says the gallery’s director, Jordi Mayoral. “Along with 25 original paintings and drawings there are household items, furniture and letters between the artist and the studio’s architect, Josep Lluis Sert, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the atelier space that was so important to Miró.”
Nearly all the works – which date from the period when Miró was working in the Mallorcan studio – are available to purchase (€100,000-€5m). Here are favourite Miró tropes – surreal women, birds and organic forms drawn with sharply defined lines – which, along with his bold handling of colour, made him such a significant influence on late-20th-century art. Ranging in style from the gentle watercolour Woman, Enfant, Bird (1956) to the dramatic, helmet-like form in Untitled (1981), Mallorca’s hold on the artist is clear. Joyous primary colours conjure a Woman with a Beautiful Hat, Star (1978), while Personages in a Landscape (1976) evokes a velvety Mallorcan night with a peppermint-drop moon. Nor is it any wonder that the arresting surrealism of Femmes V (1969) and Woman in Front of the Moon (1978, first picture) enthralled abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. The “poetic universe of Miró’s studio in Mallorca”, as Mayoral puts it, will brighten London for just three weeks. Catch it while you can.