MADRID – On August 6, 2023, Spain´s well-known logo will have existed for forty years. It was designed by the Catalan painter Joan Miró. Despite this 40-year existence, the logo has only become more timeless with the passage of time.
Over the years, ‘El sol de Miró’, as the logo was often called, was used by Turespaña with slogans such as ‘Everything under the sun’, ‘You deserve Spain’, ‘I need Spain’, ‘Visit Spain’, ‘Smile you are in Spain’ and ‘Spain is different’.
Most logos or figurative marks from the 1980s and before have either disappeared or been adapted to modern aesthetic standards. Despite this, Miró’s creation remains unchanged. And not without reason: Not every country has a logo that is a work of art by one of the most important painters of the 20th century.
‘Miro’s fried egg’
Only once was the right to exist of the logo questioned. When the Partido Popular government took office in 1996, the Minister of Trade and Tourism wanted to replace the logo. He saw it as a legacy of the opposing party, the Socialists. Fortunately, this attempt was nipped in the bud by several – and higher – authorities. The design, then only 13 years old, was mockingly referred to as Miró’s “fried egg” by critics.
However, it was the socialist minister Enrique Barón who got the logo through to the Spanish Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers as a tourist symbol of Spain.
Logo positive for the image of Spain
Now, 40 years later, it’s hard to believe that this iconic logo was once controversial. As journalist Sarah Baker noted in a 2003 New York Times article, thanks to Miró’s logo, Spain was no longer just associated with Franco, the Civil War and Don Quixote, but also with wine (like Rioja), cinema (like Almodóvar) and art (Miro himself).
The new thing about the logo was the abstract design of Miró representing the country of Spain. The logo has been so influential that other countries, including Poland, Croatia and Turkey, chose similar abstract designs for their tourism campaigns.
Free “for the king and the government”
But creating this timeless logo was not without its challenges. Initially, Spain’s three greatest artists – Dalí, Miró and Tapiès – did not respond to the call to design a logo. It was the Mallorcan publisher Pere Serra who paved the way for the collaboration with Miró. In the end, the painter agreed to design the logo for free with the words: “For the King and the government, everything for free.”
The Spain logo, still used in all campaigns of the Spanish Tourist Board Turespaña, remains a symbol that evokes pride and tradition, while also embodying Spain’s modern and dynamic character. The celebration of the logo’s 40th anniversary is a reminder of the timeless beauty and power of design and art.
About Joan Miro
Born in Barcelona in 1893, Joan Miró was a Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramist who is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His work is eclectic, combining elements of Fauvism, Cubism and abstract art. He uses bright colours, biomorphic forms and a personal symbol system. In the 1920s, Miró lived in Paris and became an important figure in the Surrealist movement. He is known for the innovative techniques he applied and his experiments with different materials and techniques.
The legacy of the Catalan painter on modern art is enormous. A whole generation of artists became captivated by his work, which can be found in museums and collections all over the world. In Barcelona, his legacy is celebrated at the Fundació Joan Miró, a museum dedicated to his life and work.