Joan Miró began painting Woman, Bird, and Star (Homage to Pablo Picasso) in 1966. In 1973, the day Pablo Picasso died, he signed it. In a recent Nooner Tour at the Denver Art Museum, visitors learned that Picasso had been an inspiration and mentor to Miró. How did the two men meet? Through their mothers and cake.
Both of Spanish descent, Miró's mother and Picasso's mother were friends. Even though Miró greatly admired the older artist, he didn't seek an introduction until 1920 when Miró was 27 and was going to Paris. Before his trip, he went to Picasso's mother and asked if there was anything she wanted him to take to her son. She said cake.
Miró made his way to Paris and delivered the cake to the older and already-successful Picasso. Apparently, Picasso appreciated the gesture because he served as a bit of a mentor to Miró, introducing him to art dealers and the art community. They were very different personalities: Miró was more reserved and shied away from public life. Picasso was more extroverted and more of a salesman.
However, they shared a brotherhood rooted deeply in Catalonia and Spain. Both were greatly impacted by the general and dictator Francisco Franco, who came to power during the Spanish Civil War.
In response to the rise of fascism in Spain, Miró painted a work called The Reaper (which was destroyed or lost). Picasso painted the famous Guernica (which is in the collection of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which is also where the works in Joan Miró: Instinct and Imagination are from).
See Woman, Bird, and Star (Homage to Pablo Picasso) (Femme, oiseau, étoile [Homenatge a Pablo Picasso]), which Miró titled in French and Catalan, and other Miró paintings and sculptures at the DAM through June 28.
Learn the stories of more artworks at the DAM during upcoming Nooner Tours, which are held on Wednesdays and Fridays at noon.