Joan Miro The ladder of escape Tate Modern exhibition banner

Room 1

Born in Barcelona in 1893, Miró grew up in an exciting atmosphere of modernism and modernisation in the city as its burgeoning internationalism went hand-in-hand with a strengthened Catalan identity. Following hard-won concessions towards autonomy within Spain, a sense of cultural distinctiveness flourished in politics, the arts, education and in the codification of the Catalan language. Miró’s insistence upon using ‘Joan’ rather than ‘Juan’ was a sign of his Catalan identity.

This atmosphere found a personal focus for Miró in the farm at Mont-roig, near Tarragona, which his parents bought in 1911. As well as the subject of his earliest mature works, Mont-roig became a haven where Miró could explore an inner world, relating reality to the imagination. This conjunction was made public in paintings such as The Tilled Field and Catalan Landscape (The Hunter). Miró considered The Farm, in particular, to be a key work, describing it as ‘a resumé of my entire life in the country’. Its concentrated detail seems to have provided a breakthrough to the more personal symbolism that he would explore in later work.