MIRO: SELECTED PAINTINGS -- through June 8 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue at Eighth Street SW. The museum is open seven days a week, 10 to 5:30. A free film on the life of of the artist will be shown this Saturday only at 1, and two free lectures will be given next Thursday at noon and 8 p.m. In addition, hour-long tours of the exhibit will be offered throughout the showing, in English on Wednesdays at 1 and in Spanish on Mondays and Saturdays at noon.

While Joan Miro continued to paint thiss week at his home on the island of Majorca, an exciting retrospective of 45 works by the great modern painter opened at the Hirshhorn Museum.

"Miro: Selected Paintings" spans 60 years of the artist's prolific career. "It is always passion and faith that lead me on," he has said. "I change my painting often in search of means of expression; it is always this burning passion which guides me."

To clarify the direction of the 87-year-old master's evoluntionary style, Hirshhorn chief curator Charles W. Millard arranged the exhibit in chronological order. Beginning with some early cubist works -- including portraits, landscapes and still-life compositions -- the display continues into the later periods of surrealistic imagery and vivid abstraction.

In 1919, while still a boy, Miro moved to Paris where he would live and work for 23 years. It was there that his well-known amalgam of surreal color and abstract shape emerged. In 1943, to escape the perils of World War II, he moved back to Spain where his artistic intuitions continue to evolve.

"Landscape, Montroig" (1914), the earliest work on display, reveals to the artist's acknowledged interest in the works of Vincent van Gogh. The latest piece on exhibit, "Bird, Insect, Constellation" (1974), is a startling and complex abstraction.

"Portrait of Juanita Obrador" and "Standing Nude," two striking works done in 1918, combine cubist figures with wildly colorful background and geometric detail. In contrast are the comical "Portrait of Madame B." and the "Carnival of Harlequin," both done in Paris in 1924 using bright color on monochromatic backgrounds. Equally colorful, "Still Life With Old Shoe" (1937) nearly shimmers with iridescence.

The exhibit is mounted in the Hirshhorn's lower-level galleries; the installation is the creditable work of designer Joe Shannon.