Joan Brossa (1919-1998) was a restless artist, one who was interested in various artistic disciplines. While it is true that he was a poet, he was not limited to the classical forms and worked with visual poems, object poems and urban poems. In addition, this hard-to-catalogue, avant-garde artist worked in a multitude of disciplines: music, theatre, film, and even magic. However, he remained virtually unknown until 1970, when he published Poesia rasa.
The opening salvo of his career came in 1948, when he participated in the founding of the legendary Dau al Set magazine, a publication that involved Surrealism being fully adopted into the artistic and literary terrain. The book Romanços del dragolí (1948) comes from this period, a work which embodied his irony and humour. He also began to write for the stage along Dadaist lines, as well as two screenplays and even a ballet.
In the 1950s, Brossa's poetry increasingly reflected the social issues, political reportage and Marxist theory. The results of this change in direction were the publications Em va fer Joan Brossa (1950), Catalunya i selva (1953) and the ten books of sapphic odes. His theatre was equally committed, with popular forms such as the 'quadre de costumes' (sketches of manners): Cortina de muralles and Or i sal are examples of these.
From the 1960s, the visual became increasingly important in the work of Brossa. The poet manipulated objects to represent the concept (visual poems). And thus, collaboration with visual artists became inevitable. He worked with Antoni Tàpies and Joan Miró. However, Brossa never stopped writing poetry. His Els entra-i-surts del poeta. Roda de llibres (1969-75), short and playful poems, are from this period.
It was after the death of Franco that the popularity of the artist grew unceasingly: awards and honours, a retrospective exhibition at the Joan Miró Foundation and wide international exposure. His work began to have a physical presence in Barcelona, with some visual poems made concrete, such as Barcino (1991-1994), in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona, and also with the opening of the Brossa Espai Escènic creation space.
The artist always tried to ensure that his lyricism remained grounded. Frankness, irony and even sarcasm were some of the tools he used to achieve this. After his death his legacy passed to the Joan Brossa Foundation, the custody of which was given over to MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art).