10 Real Quotes from Surrealist Master Joan Miró

What he says may inspire you to pick up a paintbrush.

“By nature, I am tragic and taciturn,” says Joan Miró in the opening line of Joan Miró: I Work Like a Gardener. The pocket-size hardcover, recently republished by Princeton Architectural Press in a new English translation, consists almost entirely of the Spanish Surrealist’s words, culled from a 1958 interview between Miró and French critic Yvon Taillandier.

It is full of insights into the mind of Miró (1893–1983), who was famous for creating decidedly un-taciturn works that vibrate with electrifying colors and primitively rendered shapes resembling eyeballs, microorganisms, birds, rocks, arrows, crescent moons and stars that seem to drift in an alternate universe. “My painting may be considered as humorous and gay, in spite of my tragic disposition,” the artist concedes.

Below are 10 illuminating tidbits from the book, alongside artworks from 1stdibs.


“I begin my pictures under the effect of a shock that makes me escape from reality.”


“When a painting doesn’t satisfy me, I feel physical distress, as if ill. . . . I work until the distress leaves me.”


“My figures have been subjected to the same simplification as colors.”


“I find my titles gradually as I work, as I link one thing to another on my canvas.”


“The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me.”


“Folk art always moves me. In this art, there is neither cheating nor faking. It goes straight to the point.”


“A picture should be like sparks.”


“In an artwork, you should be able to discover new things every time you see it.”


“A modeled form is less striking than one that is not.”


“Everyone should do what they want, as naturally as breathing.”