An original revelation of the art of Picasso encompassing painting, sculpture, ceramics, poetry and theatre, and emphasising on the role of the restaurant as a meeting place for the avant-gardes, the exhibition running at Museu Picasso in Barcelona showcases a tremendous work of art ranging from sketches auctioned nightly at a famous restaurant in the centre of Barcelona to Cubist still lifes inspired by the bistros of Paris and from ceramic works to poetry.
Picasso lived in Barcelona from his early teens until his early twenties. It was here that he became an artist, displaying a precocious talent from an early age. Barcelona’s Museu Picasso has an unrivalled collection of his early work, and several of his earliest paintings are centred around the kitchen. He soon moved on to Paris where his Cubist pictures revolutionised fine art. Picasso’s Kitchen focuses on Picasso’s Cubist still lifes, which reinvented an age-old genre, bringing the still life out of the home and into the bistros and the cafés.
“What could be more familiar to a painter, to the painters of Montmartre or Montparnasse, than their pipe, their tobacco, a guitar on the wall above the sofa or a soda syphon on top of the coffee table?”
Picasso’s comment on the iconography of Cubism, a movement born in bars and kitchens, explains why his work is full of the simplest things in life: a real spoon for a glass of absinthe, a bottle of Anís del Mono or a restaurant sign with the bill of fare: wine, cured ham and a well-fattened chicken. This demystification of painting and sculpture —in the form of food and all the related objects and spaces— extols everyday life and roots Picasso’s art in the “flavour of real life”.
The 1920s and 1930s were times of plenty for Picasso. Ironically, it was the Second World War which produced some of his tastiest still lives. Picasso spent the war in Paris, under German occupation. With good food in scarce supply, he painted pictures of the cuisine he craved.
“Who would have dared to throw bread into a stream? Nothing was more precious to us. A glass of wine was desirable and therefore it was translated into painting.”
After the war Picasso discovered ceramics, and his exploration of this new medium put the kitchen at the centre of his art. Pottery is baked, like bread, in the oven, then used for cooking and eating. It’s hard to think of a more elemental art form, or one more focused on food and drink. Cooking ingredients, with their aromas, flavours and colours, as well as the domestic universe of the kitchen, also abound in Picasso’s poems and plays. Since he often wrote at the kitchen table, it is hardly surprising to find food and words intermingled in his work. Tomatoes, peppers, eggs, gazpacho, chorizo, artichokes and leeks come together to form a single whole rooted in everyday household life.
The exhibition Picasso’s Kitchen runs until September the 30th, 2018 and you can find all details at www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en/
Cover image via Museu Picasso Barcelona: Pablo Picasso, Naturaleza muerta con cerezas, 1943, oil on canvas, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art Modenre – Centre de création industrielle. Donation of Picasso in 1947. © Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018