The Whimsical Art of Joan Miró
Description of the Unit –
Students discovered the work of Joan Miró (1893-1983), a modern artist who blended thoughtful, “high art” concepts with spontaneous, playful designs that captured the imagination and challenged then-current notions of what constituted “good” art. A Miró tableau employed a muted, sparsely colored background with childlike doodles, geometric shapes and blocks of mostly primary color as foreground.
Guided by a similar sense of play, whimsy and surprise, students reproduced similarly styled, playful designs of their own.
Activity statement –
Joan Miró (1893-1983), a lighthearted, humorous, yet thoughtfully provocative artist, carved his own surrealist path, balancing spontaneity and automatism with meticulous planning and rendering (source: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-miro-joan.htm). He worked with limited palettes, combining muted backgrounds with mostly single-lined, bold, expressive color (however sparingly) and imagery in the foreground.
Students pay specific attention to his use of both organic and geometric lines and shapes; the contrast between the muted, soft background colors versus the pure, bold blocks of color in the foreground, with the very deliberate use of black and white for contrast; they discuss the silly little creatures they find sprinkled throughout his compositions, lightheartedly arguing over what it is they see, illustrating the magic of Miró’s work. Students will often mention the terms surrealism and abstraction to describe Miró’s work.
- A basic historical context surrounding Miró’s work
- Why Miró’s work was considered daring at the time
- The aspects of Miró’s work that are carefully planned and executed vs. those aspects that are more spontaneous and whimsical
- The basics of color theory
- The meaning of the terms abstraction and surrealism
Be able to:
- To recognize Miró’s work
- Be able to use colors to create subtle backgrounds and bold foregrounds
- Use line and form in playful ways
- Explore the work of Joan Miró
- Create their own design combining carefully planned and rendered work with images that express a sense of play, humor and surprise
Resources and materials –
- Exemplars of work by Joan Miró
- White cardstock or Bristol paper (8.5×11)
- Chalk pastel
- Paper towels or other blending tool
- Fine and broad-tip black Sharpies
- Colored Sharpies or markers
What do you see in these paintings? Does someone see something different?
What colors do you observe? What would you call these colors?
How do these paintings make you feel? Do you consider these figures funny? Why or why not?
Do you think Miró spent a lot of time on these paintings? Why or why not?
Do you consider this art? Why or why not?
Understand what was happening in the art world at the time Miró created these paintings?
Understand Joan Miró’s approach to these paintings?
Understand ways in which Miró made these paintings seem silly and spontaneous?
Understand how to create a subtle, nearly monochromatic background?
Use minimal and bold colors to create focal points int he foreground?
Create both geometric an organic shapes?