There can be no greater compliment paid to an architect, than being awarded a commission to design and construct a major public building in the city of their birth. Nor perhaps, any greater responsibility. This is arguably doubly so when the building in question is in memory of a personal friend, is to be located in a prominent position in one of Europe’s great cities, and is to display the works of one of the world’s most revered artists, Joan Miró .
And so, it was in the mid 1970s that renowned Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert set about creating Miro’s dream of bringing contemporary art to an ever increasing art-consuming world. The result is the Fundació Joan Miró (Joan Miró Foundation) which sits comfortably in an elevated position atop Montjuic Hill, overlooking the red roof-tops of Barcelona, speaking its own specific language of modular modernism.
Opened in 1975, and now acknowledged as one of the art-world’s great museums, Sert’s gleaming white, bold, yet fully functional design shouts rationalism and avant-garde architecture to all who visit or pass it by. Housing many of Miro’s paintings, ceramics, sculptures and drawings, the building steers the visitor through its galleries in an easy manner; the exhibits set in spacious double height rooms with ceiling to floor plated glass windows providing superb qualities of natural light.
There is a noticeable balance between the inside and outside – and, the upper and lower levels. There is a well-considered use of space, especially the courtyards, patios, gardens and terraces. From the inside, intriguing glimpses of Miro’s sculptures set in these spaces are beguiling.
There has perhaps been no greater complicity between a major architect and major artist as the Fundació Joan Miró; the dynamic fusion created between the building and the works of art it contains is there for the world to see.