In Joan Miró’s constellation there would be points such as Paris, New York and Japan, but more especially Barcelona, Mallorca and Mont-roig del Camp, where the artist returned each summer until the age of 83 to “nourish himself from the force of the land”.
This is where we find Mas Miró, the institution which, together with the foundations in Barcelona and Mallorca, make up the Miró triangle – a kind of emotional cartography of the artist.
The ‘mas’ or farmhouse was threatened when the motorway was built and was closed up for years, and even placed on the market. But in 2006 it was catalogued as a site of national cultural interest and finally given to the Mas Miró foundation by the family. It opened its doors in 2018, following the first phase of refurbishment.
Elena Juncosa, director of Mas Miró, reminds us of a dialogue between Miró and the critic Georges Raillard (Gedisa republished the dialogues last year): “I want everything to be left behind me just as it was when I disappear”. The desire of the artist is carried out in this space which remains original and intact. Mas Miró is not exactly a museum and neither does it contain any original works – “a weak point which has become its strength” says Juncosa. Mont-roig is the landscape of a creator who feels a deep and constant tie with the earth; it was here that he lived and where he would begin works such as The Farm, to be completed in Paris in 1922 where he requested packages of local vegetation of Tarragona to be sent to inspire him. An iron frame recreates the framing of the painting which is held in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and acts as a warning; everything you see, feel and smell connects with what the artist impregnated and evoked in the work.
Miró first visited the farm in 1911 to recover from typhoid fever, and he would return every summer, especially from July to September, except during the war and during his exile in France. The extensive biography by Josep Massot includes details such as the price the family paid for the farm, then known as Mas d’en Ferratges (Ferratges being the surname of the previous owner, who had returned from Cuba and was the Marquis of Mont-roig) as well as all the trips the artist made to the house and the group of friends who visited him there, such as Calder, Hemingway, Gasch and even Kandinski who was invited for the wine pressing season.
Visitors are advised to use the audio guide. The visit begins on the austere ground floor of the house, which includes the cellar. On the first floor is the room that Miró first used as a studio, documented thanks to the testimony of the farm workers. The furniture from the 1920s that is represented in the artist’s work is conserved alongside some family portraits. The decoration overall is meagre and in the corners are the stones and roots that Miró collected on his walks to the beach. The biographical story blurs with the historical details: in 1938, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, some of the rooms in the farm were occupied by the republican army, and the chapel which was built by Miró’s father and made available to the local villagers, was deconsecrated.
The first tailor made studio is clearly designed to let in a lot of natural light in order to experiment with sculpture.
The artist’s studio is the most-visited room in Mas Miró and is where there are most signs of the artist. It was first commissioned to Josep Lluís Sert but was finally built by Lluís G. Ylla in 1948. The first tailor made studio (later would come the one in Mallorca) is clearly designed to let in a lot of natural light in order to experiment with sculpture. On the walls there are two photographs of Picasso, his master and friend, and one of Joan Prats; there is a page with Persian calligraphy and, in a corner, a piece of graffiti. In a small adjoining room there are six sketches for sculptures which the foundation does not rule out exhibiting one day.
Next to the studio there is a carob tree which reflects the central importance of the vegetation around the farm, and is a reminder of another of the artist’s obsessions – he always carried a carob bean with him. From Mont-rog, of course!