Joan Miró and why I didn’t go to the Picasso Museum

05 мая 2020In TravelBy admin11 Minutes

Joan Miró and why I didn’t go to the Picasso Museum

After a leisurely morning walk on Montjuïc mountain and traditionally eating the Catalan tangerines for breakfast, I went to Joan Miro Foundation with absolutely no idea what to expect from this artist and his paintings. As you might guess from the heading, the choice was between world-renowned Picasso and Miro, who I knew almost nothing about. Although, maybe I didn’t listen to art history lectures well enough.

Here’s a little spoiler to drum up your interest – the museum will certainly blow your mind, it’s a Must See place for all creative people. Visiting other ones and staring at the Renaissance paintings, at all these samples of perfection in terms of the technique, color, light and everything else, I want to go to sleep after the second picture, no, actually, even after the first. I was running in the Foundation for almost two hours, my camera, with its permanent shutter clicking, has overheated, but the strength and the will to see the rest didn’t fade away. Plus, there’re a lovely courtyard and a roof which gives another spectacular view of Barcelona.

A bit about the life and work of

Joan Miro is a Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramicist. His works can be found all over Barcelona, from the airport terminal to the world famous La Rambla, as well as gardens and parks where his sculptured creations are demonstrated. What makes him so attractive to me? Firstly, I admire his approach to work, his attitude towards the academic schooling (‘I want to kill painting’, 1927) and his experiments. Secondly, his words about art have been found to correlate closely with the design method in my mind:

I feel the need of attaining the maximum of intensity with the minimum of means…

After a long creative search for his own style, Miro came to rejection of traditional painting, so his later works are a mix of Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism and Fauvism (all those styles and directions he had to go through to find his original, unique language).

Miro’s special manner can be seen in each of his works. Looking at the paintings, you can feel the passion, inspiration and desire they’re made with. Here is an interesting quote by Eugène Ionesco from a special issue of “Tribute to Miro, 1972”:
«When you look at Miro at work, his face, then at the lines, born in the creative process, it seems that everything is illuminated by only one feeling at the same time restrained and intense… He is captured by his rush and we get carried away together with him in his rush and take off. This is a fairly rare occurrence — to be in the presence of such life-giving and energizing energy…»

Take-off point

The painting, which was the take-off point of the artist’s career, is The Farm. It depicts his family’s farm in the village of Montroig, Catalonia. It is clearly seen that such detailed realism is typical neither for Miro himself, nor for his previous works. But it can be explained. Miro graduated from the fine art academy at La Llotja, but besides that, he studied to be an accountant in Barcelona. Apparently, accountancy meticulousness has prevailed in The Farm.

Miro was cautious about art critics and probably disliked them for trying to classify him. He aimed to avoid being put into any categories and in many interviews emphasized that he’d like to abandon the ordinary methods of painting. Judging by later works, he definitely succeeded.

Being opposed to bourgeois art and to the creation of luxury goods, he was a free spirit, he loved experiments and worked in various fields of art: from illustrations to ceramics and sculpture.

What you can learn from the master

Miro does have something to teach us and the facts from his biography leave no doubt about it.

Do not give up
On February 16, 1917, the artist’s first solo exhibition is held. More than 60 fauvist works are displayed there, but none of them is sold.

Take your time
From 1918 to 1927, the artist continues to search for his own style, creating highly detailed paintings (The Vegetable Garden with Donkey, Cart Tracks), or vice versa moving away from Realism towards Cubism (Standing Nude, The Table). In 1926 Miro approaches, step by step, his own style – clearer and more abstract (Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird, Dog Barking at the Moon).

Meet and communicate
In 1920, Miro goes to Paris and meets Picasso and other artists. Picasso’s works influences him and, probably, encourages him to resume his search.

Believe in yourself
In 1921, the work on the famous The Farm starts. It takes 9 months of hard work, 7-8 hours a day. However, the size of the canvas isn’t so big – 140×122 cm. If you believe in yourself, sooner or later there will be a person who’ll believe in you the same way you do. Ernest Hemingway, who will purchase The Farm later, becomes such a person. I’d like to highlight some words written by Hemingway about this painting:

“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. No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things”.
You can read the full chapter dedicated to the painting, which is supposed to be included in the writer’s work “The holiday, which is always with you”.

So, why not Picasso?

In this matter, the story of Hemingway and Miro is very revealing. The writer believed in the artist and saw that great passion in the works of Miro. Hemingway’s attitude towards Miro can be summarized in his own words: “No one could look at it and not know it had been painted by a great painter”.

I still subscribe to the school of thought that abstract art is not just “come on, I can do that too, just haven’t got enough time”, but is able to provoke emotions, to give rise to associations, to stimulate your imagination – to make you think. Thus, the process of perception becomes more complicated and more puzzling, but at the same time more interesting. I look at Miro’s art just as Hemingway saw his talent. That’s not to say I fully understand and unequivocally interpret his paintings, if that’s at all possible, but I feel that they cause certain sensations inside. That is what attracts me.

Picasso is an incomparable and magnificent master of his time, for me as well. There are no bad and no good artists. Each of them is talented in areas where applied self. I’m just talking about my perception of abstract art and the works of Miro.


Through the designer's eyes: Le Havre, France

05 мая 2020In TravelBy admin6 Minutes

Through the designer’s eyes: Le Havre, France

A little story about why a designer or any creative person should go to a small French town in search of inspiration and new ideas.

See the Normandy Bridge

I’ve already written that Normandy is famous for its bridges, but I’ll never tire of repeating that. Construction of the Normandy Bridge (designed by Michel Virlogeux) took 7 years and 465 million bucks. It was subsequently depicted on the 500€ banknote. I have two bridges on my list yet — the Normandy Bridge on the way linking Le Havre to Honfleur, and the second one leading directly to Le Havre. Unfortunately, I’m unfamiliar with the architect of the younger bridge, but how could you not fall in love with that asymmetric creation of architectural thought? If you are lucky enough to find another bridge in Normandy, then definitely let me know.

Explore the port

There is beautiful and laconic typography (for non-designers – lettering) on the lighthouse, which, in a duet with the organic design of the lighthouse, creates a harmonized and pleasing to eye object of the urban environment. The port has its own museum, and there’s Museum of modern art André Malraux (MuMa) in the opposite – you should visit both of them. One of my sources of inspiration is those very colorful containers. There is something in this union of simple color and shape that resonates in the designer’s soul. And finally, explore the port, maybe you’ll get lucky and find something else.

Find all the art objects

It’s not that easy as it may seem. I’ve spent the whole day walking around Le Havre and hadn’t located all that stuff I saw the next day. However, I’ll hold the cards close to keep things interesting for you.

Get inspired by the architecture

The bridge situated in the very center of the city, the «Volcano» cultural venue (designed by Oscar Niemeyer), the University of Le Havre, the Church of Saint Joseph looking more like a skyscraper than a church on UNESCO’s World Heritage List… Such a variety of good architecture samples is the last thing being expected from a small provincial city like Le Havre. But there’s still more to see.

Leave the center

This may seem strange, but I found all the “beauty for designer” away from the center. In my view, what stirs up designer’s sense of wonder is posters, signs, letterings, graffiti … Of course, this is not the limit, and many designers, including myself, draw inspiration from the most ordinary things that are not related to design.

It is curious when some surprising and good result is born as part of a seemingly ordinary task. Le Havre’s center turned out to be rather mediocre in terms of inspirational design, so I recommend that you probe a little farther into the town.

Visit artists’ studios

If you consider design more an art than a craft, it’s worth checking out Honfleur, especially if you will go there to watch the Norman Bridge anyway. Honfleur has many private art galleries and artists’ studios where you can watch the work of the masters.

While you are packing to rush off to Le Havre and Honfleur, I just remembered I’d recently told you what is more remarkable about Normandy. Not only designers and creative people are able to appreciate the stunning beauty of nature.


The exhibition – Your neighbours are the artists

28 февраля 2020In TravelBy admin4 Minutes

The exhibition  Your neighbours are the artists

In late October there was an exhibition entitled ‘Buren Bij Kunstenaars’, which is literally translated as ‘Your neighbors are the artists’, in Bruges. I don’t know Dutch, but that title accurately reflects the very heart of the exhibition.

During October 19-21, most of the studios were open to the public in Bruges and in few other cities of West Flanders. The exhibition attendees could see the painters working and creating something of art, ask them what idea they were putting into the work or just have a small talk on any tangents. That was more of a dinner with friends than an exhibition.

I’ve seen fantastic examples of pottery, paintings and calligraphy. What also appeared there frequently was carving, that is calligraphy on the stone. In the streets of Bruges one can find infinitely beautiful samples of calligraphy, immortalized in stone.

I’ve had grand plans that included visiting the photography and glass craftsmen’s studios, but the hours were not conductive for everything. The exhibition is annual, and if you happen to be in Belgium at that time don’t waste the chance of visiting the ‘Buren Bij Kunstenaars’. For all those interested in art it would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time.

It is a true pleasure to be in a studio, to see artists making their works of art and feel the atmosphere of a creative kingdom. That is far more fascinating than just looking at already-done pieces of art isolated from their creator in any exhibition hall.

Most people showed their hobbies there. It means that they didn’t get anything out of this, didn’t aim to sell their works – they simply did all of this for their individual selves. However, the visitors had an opportunity to purchase artists’ works as a part of the display. I was most interested in those craftspeople who, for instance, had been making ceramics as a hobby, but not for commercial purposes. IMHO.

I was surprised a lot when I found some Cyrillic letters in one of the studios. These curious figures were spotted there, too. I forgot to mention that the exhibition had been totally free.

The studios and the artists: Maud Bekaert, Kristoffel Boudens, Lily Viaene, Griet Verhaert, Hilde and Kathleen Carels, Tine Deweerdt, Brody Neuenschwander


To embrace the unembraceable: 8-hour Zurich

28 февраля 2020In TravelBy admin7 Minutes

To embrace the unembraceable: 8-hour Zurich

That time we were flying to the capital of sunny Italy – to Rome. Along the way we got a chance to spend 8 hours in one of the most beautiful cities of Switzerland. We had no need and no desire to sit back in the airport so, 15 minutes after we’d landed and got our passports stamped, we have entered the city.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is the major cultural center of the country. For designers, Switzerland is synonymous with clear structures and brevity, with beauty in simple and elegant forms. It’s heaven on earth for people of visual type. It doesn’t really matter whether one, looking at that city, is a designer, an architect or just a person of good taste. But if you’re more of the fan of beach rest and all-inclusive resort the city might seem a little boring for you. As one of my mates said, ‘Only retired have time of the life there’.

I was interested in everything: from shreds of newspaper, random writing on the walls, small signage to the huge banners and billboards. All those were designed as top notch, clear, accurate and not boring things.

Of course, someday it is entering upon a period when every single mean of laconism and combinations of means have been already tried. And then there comes an experiment time. Zurich, in this regard, is not an exception. Its traditions and heritage are honored and respected, but at the same time experiments and new graphic suggestions, based on the already existed methods, are also welcomed there.

In the era of globalization, culture mixing and Fusion trending worldwide, Switzerland risked losing itself and its unique style. This is not yet the case, despite the new experiments. I won’t speak for anyone else, but, as for me, I see the difference between Swiss style and another. Especially when it comes to a poster.

Museum fur Gestaltung Zurich

The main museum of visual communication and design in Switzerland is situated in the historic building in Ausstellungsstrasse. Also, there’s a part in the new Schaudepot complex, which is located at Toni-Areal and shares the territory of the complex with the University of Arts Zurich.

There are two permanent displays in the historic building: one gives a picture of design history and another is devoted to the history of posters. The archives of the museum contain cultural assets of international significance. Such objects as those are in the collections of graphics, of posters and decorative art were influential in the development of the various fields of design at the different times in history.

Attended the new complex, we’ve made our way into the exhibition «Design Process», where it was told in perfect detail what a great deal of work had been done on the projects, how designers had been presenting their work to customers, what comments and decisions had been made… By the way, not so long ago a large open exhibition was held in West Flanders.

But it doesn’t pay to leave immediately after the show. Walk through the corridors of the University, go upstairs. You would gain more inspiration from young, brash and ambitious students. The building itself is a great display. The walls are painted, covered with posters and sketches. Pay attention to the signboard and nav system of the complex.

We’ve spent up our 8 hours in Zurich visiting the exhibitions in both buildings as if we had done it in no time at all. However, we still had some time on the clock so we decided to go for a walk. Bought a box of dates, grabbed a bite and got on the bus to the airport with confidence. Imagine our surprise, when we were taken away in the opposite direction. There was a short time left before our flight, but it would be a crime if we didn’t walk around the place we had come to.

We got off the bus in the private sector. There’s clean and nice everywhere as it goes in Europe. Passed 100 meters from the station, we’ve come to the picturesque lake. Finished the dates and then eventually went out to the airport with 200% certainty.