Miquel Barceló was born in Felanitx, Mallorca, in 1957. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts of Palma and in 1974 began a Fine Arts degree at the University of Barcelona. In the late 1970s he presented his first works, which were in line with the conceptual spirit associated with the Taller Llunàtic group in Palma de Mallorca.
When he first travelled to Paris he discovered l’Art brut and North American abstract expressionism. In the early 1980s his figurative painting revealed an expressionist tendency, in clear association with two internationally influential artistic movements: new German expressionist painting and the Italian Transavantgarde.
In 1981 he participated in the collective exhibition “Otras figuraciones” (Other Figurations) mounted by Fundación ”la Caixa” in Madrid. A year later Rudie Fuch asked him to participate in the 7th Kassel Documenta. From this moment on his work won international recognition; proof of this are his exhibitions in prestigious art galleries such as London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Leo Castelli in New York or Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich and art centres such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, the MACBA, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía or the Louvre Museum.
Miquel Barceló has emerged as one of the most significant representatives of Spanish 1980s painting and identifies with an artists’ collective that resumes the practice of painting with a sensibility based on matter. His lengthy sojourns in different countries such as Italy, Portugal, France, USA or Mali had a decisive influence on his work. His production has been displayed in numerous solo and collective exhibitions. He won the National Plastic Arts Prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture in 1986 and the Príncipe de Asturias Award to the Arts in 2003. That same year, the Le Promeneur-Gallimard publishing house, under the title of Carnets d’Afrique, released a selection of workbooks he produced in Africa between 1988 and 2000.
In 2001 Miquel Barceló travelled to Vietri sul Mare, a town in the province of Salerno (Italy), where he worked in a ceramics workshop on the project for Palma de Mallorca Cathedral. Miquel Barceló was to remain in Vietri sul Mare until June 2003, when he completed the first phase of the intervention on the chapel of Sant Pere of Mallorca Cathedral. April of that same year saw the inauguration of the Miquel Barceló exhibition in the Balearic Islands, displayed in five different venues of the four islands.
Between April and June 2004, the Louvre Museum presented a selection of original drawings produced to illustrate the Divine Comedy, in relation to the exhibition Dante et Virgile aux enfers d’Eugène Delacroix. In December he returned to Africa. The installation of the ceramic cladding in Mallorca Cathedral was deemed to be completed, thus ending the first phase of the project. In 2005 he inaugurated a one-man exhibition in the C & M Gallery of New York and at the Frankfurt Fair presented La Catedral bajo el mar (The Cathedral Under the Sea), a book of photographs by Agustí Torres on the creative process of the Cathedral. The installation in November and December of the stained-glass windows in the Chapel of Sant Pere of Mallorca Cathedral completed the second phase of the project. His intervention was inaugurated in February 2007 and in parallel he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Universitat de les Illes Balears. That same year Barceló won the Sorolla Medal conferred by the Hispanic Society of America.
On 6th of June 2009 the Spanish Pavilion at the 53rd edition of the Venice Art Biennale was inaugurated. At this edition of the Biennale, Spain featured the solo presence of Miquel Barceló. From February to June 2010, Miquel Barceló presented the exhibition El mar de Barceló (Barceló’s Sea) at CaixaForum Madrid, a show featuring the process of creating the UN dome, with photographs and audiovisuals by Agustí Torres, a maquette of the dome and preparatory works as well as the Marejadilla (Swell) canvas dating from 2002 and the 2008 Geneva Workbook, the artist’s journal with watercolours, texts and drawings. This exhibition transferred to CaixaForum Barcelona from July 2010 to January 2011.