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New director of Joan Miró Foundation wants to “revitalize” the artist’s image

German art historian Marko Daniel will take up the position following Rosa Maria Malet, who ran the organization for 37 years

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22 November 2017 04:03 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Joan Miró’s colorful, whimsical work has become one of the artistic references for the city of Barcelona. Yet, more could be done to “revitalize” the memory of this Catalan artist – so says the new director of the Joan Miró Foundation, German art historian Marko Daniel.

Daniel, who will begin as the new director on January 2, 2018, cut his teeth on projects like working as the Convenor of Public Programmes at London’s Tate Modern and Tate Britain. He took up the position at the Foundation following Rosa Maria Malet, who ran the organization for 37 consecutive years before deciding to retire. Daniel himself decided to join the Joan Miró Foundation because of its potential to bring “confluence” to all the axes of his work, and because he’s always thought of Miró as a “referent.”

In his new role at the Joan Miró Foundation, Daniel is aiming to “connect” the figure of the iconic artist with current events. The historian lamented that “often, it’s appreciated more” abroad than in Catalonia. But, he explained, Miró’s gaze “connects to the reality we live in.” 

  • “From here, we can both stay rooted in local culture while also being open to global art, and to be a meeting point between the local and the international”

    Marko Daniel · New director of the Joan Miró Foundation

The new director also supports the idea of displaying the work in a new and “surprising” way, to give more opportunities to new generations to discover more about Joan Miró. Daniel also greatly admires the cultural endeavors undertaken up until now. Inasmuch, Daniel calls on the Catalan cultural sector to claim the “work done” and the “great” contribution that they can make to Catalonia and its image abroad. Indeed, Daniel explains that “the figure of Joan Miró is essential to this.”

Joan Miró’s surreal wonders

Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist, born in Barcelona at the end of the 19th century (1893-1983). His work primarily belongs to the surrealism movement, focusing on the wanderings and workings of the subconscious mind. Miró’s art in particular also recreated childlike aspects and displayed a certain Catalan pride. Part of his work also revolves around disdain for conventional art forms.  

“There are many Mirós,” explained Daniel, detailing that the artist is different for each museum-goer. While “complementing” this interpretation to each visitor, though, the new Foundation director also highlights the importance of noting Miró’s roots which are “right here in Catalonia.” Indeed, from this base, the art historian believes that the artist’s work should be “open to everyone,” to “other arts and cultures.” Daniel hopes that, from this starting point, he and his team can “both stay rooted in local culture while also being open to global art, to be a meeting point between the local and the international.” The new director explained that he aims for the foundation to be “a source of pride” for the country, and for museum-goers to not only to feel welcome, but also that the museum “belongs to them.”

Daniel was chosen unanimously

The Foundation was established before the artist’s death, in 1975, with another foundation opened in his adoptive city of Palma de Mallorca. The Foundation in Barcelona not only acts to promote the artist’s work, but hosts various exhibits related to Miró’s vision, and famously houses Alexander Calder’s toxic and beautiful mercury fountain.

The president of the Joan Miró Foundation, Jaume Freixa, stated that Daniel was chosen unanimously as the new director. “Marko Daniel fully meets all the requirements,” Freixa divulged, adding that the art historian is “the best candidate for his knowledge of the cultural, Catalan, Spanish and international art sector.” Additionally, Freixa noted, “he is qualified to create networks and relationships.”

Marko Daniel, born in Aachen, Germany, holds an Art and Philosophy History degree from the University College of London and a doctorate in History and Art Theory from the University of Essex, and built a career specialized in contemporary Chinese and Catalan art. 

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  • The new director of the Joan Miró Foundation on November 22, 2017, Marko Daniel (by Guillem Roset)