Joan Miró’s (1893-1983) monumental mural "Personages Oiseaux," or "Bird People," stands out as a welcoming icon of Wichita State University. With its brilliance of color, dazzling play of light, and playful imagery, it is arguably the most significant piece of public art in the State of Kansas. As an important Surrealist artist, Miró’s work encourages multiple interpretations. The Surrealists took inspiration from the ideas of Sigmund Freud, using dreamlike imagery pulled from their unconscious minds. The colorful shapes and irregular lines of Miró’s figures might remind you of a happy dream, as they float and fly through an undefined background. The bright color and bold, graphic design also grab our attention, as does the glittering glass surface. Miró was excited about the possibilities of designing a mural for a college campus. Speaking of his first University mural, commissioned by Harvard, he said, “doing work for public places is one of my passions. … I was fascinated by the idea because it would put me in touch with those students who would pass the mural every day.” Miró also enjoyed experimenting with materials in this work. It is the only glass and marble mosaic he ever made, and he commissioned a world-famous French studio to complete it under his personal direction. The individual pieces of glass (or tesserae) were originally placed with epoxy, rather than mortar, so that they would shimmer in the light, and this effect was carefully replicated when the work’s 350,000 tiles were restored in 2011. Miró said of "Personages Oiseaux", “I believe it will be one of the best mosaics ever made."
Joan Miró, Spanish, 1893 - 1983
Personnages Oiseaux, 1977-1978
Venetian glass; marble; stainless steel
316 3/8 H x 625 W in
Gift of artist at reduced cost, University Art Collection Committee purchase with funds from the Student Government Association Student Fees and Private Donors | © Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris