Miguel Barceló was born in 1957 on the island of Mallorca, where he lived until moving to Barcelona to study at the Escuela de Bellas Artes Sant Jordi in 1975.
During this period in Barcelona, marked by the end of Franco's dictatorship and the transition to democracy, there was a renewed cultural effervesence signaled in art by a break with earlier political works in favor of a recovery of painting.
Barceló's paintings incorporate a broad range of techniques and media, transforming the flat pictorial surface of modernist abstraction into a space with its own topography of materials and a physical molding of matter. His first solo exhibition (in 1976) and entitled Cadaverina 15, in which he exhibited boxes containing decomposing organic substances thereby demonstrating his early interest in organic transformation and revealing the influence of the German artist Joseph Beuys.
Barceló's more painterly works often represent classical subject matter such as still lives, landscapes, and light studies, and signify the artist's continual search for a new expressive formal vocabulary in painting. Creating many of his works horizontally on the floor, Barceló's artistic process allows him a freedom of movement around the canvas that also indicates the influence of the American artist Jackson Pollock's drippings. In 1982 Barceló achieved international recognition when he was chosen by the curator Rudi Fuchs as the Spanish representative for the international exhibition Documenta 7 in Kassel,Germany.