Joan Miró spent his life in both his birthplace of Barcelona and his adopted home of Paris. He lived in turbulent times and saw his country ravaged by civil war, the fascist Franco regime and World War ll. He lived long enough to see Spain become a constitutional monarchy and to see himself become a national treasure, but not long enough to see the powerful impact that his art had on Spanish tourism. Miró helped to design the most successful and recognizable national logo ever created.
Despite hard times, Miró’s work remained fluid, colorful and optimistic, with a style all his own. He was aware of the chaos around him, but often saw a bigger picture.
“The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me.” he said, “I’m overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun. There, in my pictures, tiny forms in huge empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains – everything which is bare has always greatly impressed me.”
The Power of the Sol de Miró
In 1983, just a few months before his death, at age 90, Joan Miró was asked to design a logo for Spain’s struggling tourist industry. Though Franco had died in 1975, the country was still trying to shake off the dark cloud of fascism. The junior Minister of Tourism, Ignacio Varallo, planned to market Spain as a unified country with a wonderful climate and something for everyone. Varallo sent letters to Spain’s three most famous and beloved artists: Salvador Dalí, Antoni Tàpies and Joan Miró.
Varallo met with Dalí, but nothing came of the meeting. He then went to visit with Miró, in Mallorca, at the end of the summer of 1983. Miró was ill and bedridden at that time, and though he couldn’t paint the logo, he and Varallo came up with a plan to use elements from Miró’s existing work to create a new design.
The ministry offered to pay Miró for the design, but Miró refused to accept payment, saying, “for the King and for the government it’s all free”. Before the Sol de Miró, most countries used their flag on tourist posters, and not a single other country had ever used an abstract design for a logo. The logo was first used in Europe and then in the U.S. It also became a well-known symbol in Spain, and its impact was powerful. In just five years, the Spanish tourism industry doubled its income.
The Sol de Miró logo is still used in Spain’s tourism advertising. Miró died just a few months after donating his design and never knew the impact it had on his country. His star and sun was, Vasallo said, ‘probably his last gift to Spain’.
Works by Joan Miró at Surovek Gallery
We have many wonderful examples of the work of Joan Miró available at the Surovek Gallery.
Please contact us if you would like more information about Les Grandes Maneuvers, L’Equinox or any of the other fine work available at Surovek Gallery.
Mark Sinclair. TM: The untold stories of 29 classic logos. Laurence King, publisher. September 8, 2014.