Home Exhibition - Rooms

01 Catalan Cooking

In 1899 Picasso began frequenting Quatre Gats, a bar and restaurant on Carrer de Montsió, in Barcelona, open between 12 June 1897 and 26 June 1903. It was founded by Miquel Utrillo, Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu, with financial backing from businessman Manuel Girona and industrialist Maties Ardèniz.

The manager, Pere Romeu, soon noticed Picasso and asked him to design several items, including the menu and the poster for the dish of the day. The artwork in the restaurant was almost entirely by Ramon Casas.

The food at Quatre Gats was never anything special. The establishment’s advertisements and promotions to drum up custom certainly showed that the owner was keen to publicise its culinary offerings. However, in the words of writer Josep Pla, “The portions were a triumph of hope over substance. More than a restaurant, it was an exhibition of painted dishes, miniature cooking more suited to a kindergarten. The servings were tiny, bordering on the ethereal.”


Pablo Picasso
Menu for the Quatre Gats, Dish of the Day
c. 1900
Wax and ink on paper
45.5 × 29 cm
The Hunt Museum, Limerick
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Ricard Opisso
Interior of the Quatre Gats
Charcoal, ink and pencil
on paper
41.9 × 49.1 cm
Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Barcelona 2018

Menu for the Quatre Gats, Dish of the Day - Pablo Picasso 1
Interior of the Quatre Gats - Ricard Opisso 2

02 Cubist Cooking

‘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”.


Pablo Picasso
The Restaurant
Oil on canvas
34 × 42 cm
Fundación Almine y Bernard
Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Madrid.
On deposit at the Museo Picasso Málaga
FABA Photographe inconnu, tous droits réservés
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Pablo Picasso
Glass of Absinthe
París, primavera del 1914
Bronce pintado y cucharilla
de absenta de plata
21 × 14 × 7 cm
Fundación Almine y Bernard
Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Madrid
FABA Photo: Eric Baudouin:
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

The Restaurant - Pablo Picasso 1
Glass of Absinthe - Pablo Picasso 2

03 Kitchen’s Utensils

Picasso said that, for him, objects were the vehicles of thought. In a flash, he captured their evocative power. The rounded shape of a ladle, for example, could “signify” a human head; on other occasions, colanders might perform the same function. Picasso used an object’s power of suggestion in a given context to play with combinations thrown up by metamorphosis. In his still lifes, he captured simple things in an instant: breakfast, a plate of cheese, a lamb cutlet or fish wrapped in newspaper. In this way, he reaffirmed the poetry of everyday life in the most ordinary details.


Pablo Picasso
Head of a Woman
Paris 1929–1930
Painted iron, sheet Metal, springs, and metal colanders,
39 3/8 × 14 9/16 × 23 1/4″ (100 × 37 × 59 cm).
Musée national Picasso-Paris
Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Pablo Picasso
Ladle, rakes, wood, string,
nails and feather
112 × 61.5 × 29.8 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris.
Gift by Pablo Picasso, 1979
Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean / Mathieu Rabeau
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

Head of a Woman - Pablo Picasso 1
Figure - Pablo Picasso 2

04 Words in the Kitchen

Cooking ingredients, with their aromas, flavours and colours, as well as the domestic universe of the kitchen, abound in Picasso’s poems and plays. Since he often wrote at the kitchen table, it is hardly sur- prising 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. In Desire Caught by the Tail —a play written in four days during the winter of 1940— a food shortage turns into overabundance linked to eroticism. Tasty dishes evoke a happy home and childhood memories; the revolting or inedible food in his prose poem “The Dream and Lie of Franco” (fried cod sorbet or nail soup) reflects his disgust of Franco. With Picasso, food and cooking are the best indicators of the permanent ties between his life and work.


Pablo Picasso
Facsimile of Desire Caught by the Tail
Act 1, Scene 1
Ink on paper
31 × 24 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris
RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / MichèleBellot
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

Facsimile of Desire Caught by the Tail - Pablo Picasso 1

05 Wartime Cooking and Shortages

Picasso had already withdrawn to Royan when war broke out in September 1939, and he remained there for almost a year. He set up his studio on the upper floor of the seafront villa Les Voiliers, where he painted Café in Royan (dated 15 August 1940). On 25 August 1940, Picasso travelled back to Paris, where he would remain for the entire Nazi Occupation, seeking refuge in his studio on Rue des Grands-Augustins. Picasso took several cues from these war years, as reflected in his painting. Decor, furniture, utensils and food, as well as many other aspects of cooking and the kitchen, abound in his still lifes: pots and fruit dishes, fish and shellfish, sausages and artichokes, knives and forks, tables and chairs, blue checked tablecloths, the tomato plant from his studio. It looks like a Spanish inn where you eat what you bring with you. It is also the embodiment of a fabulous abundance in a period of scarcity. But this conspicuous consumption is thrown down as a challenge to the misfortunes of the time. ‘Look, even a saucepan can shout… Everything can shout,’ he told Pierre Daix.

The Buffet at Le Catalan

On 30 May 1943, Picasso painted two versions of The Buffet at Le Catalan. This restaurant, run by a Catalan named Arnau, became Picasso’s regular lunchtime haunt and he often brought along several of his friends, including Georges Hugnet (who became its chronicler), Paul and Nusch Éluard, Dora Maar, Pierre Reverdy, Óscar Domínguez, Michel Leiris and Zette, Léon-Paul Fargue, Jacques Prévert, Apel·les Mestre and a number of others. In one of the last texts he wrote before being arrested by the Gestapo, Robert Desnos records this striking and illuminating remark by Picasso: “I had lunch at Le Catalan for months, and day after day I would look at the buffet there without being struck by anything in particular about it. One day, I decided to paint it, which I then did. The next day, when I arrived, the buffet was gone, its place was empty… By painting it, I must have taken it away without realising it.” The moment Picasso covets an object, he seizes it, he wrenches it from its world; he feeds on it, swallows it and incorporates it into the space of the picture. This recreated object, cooked and digested, then exists again, this time by the grace of the brush.


Pablo Picasso
Nen amb llagosta
Oli sobre tela
21 de juny del 1941
130 x 97,3 cm
Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi
© Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Pablo Picasso
La cuina
Novembre del 1948
Oli sobre tela
175 × 252 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris.
Donació de Pablo Picasso, 1979
MP 200
RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Franck Raux
© Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

Nen amb llagosta - Pablo Picasso 1
La cuina - Pablo Picasso 2

06 Seafood

The cuttlefish, the morays, the sea urchins, the octopuses...

Catch the centaurs with seaweed chains.
The lemons emerge from the foam.
Venus asleep goes up to the market.
She buys goat cheese, oil, bread and wine.

— Rafael Alberti. «Picasso Antibes La Joie de vivre»


Pablo Picasso
Still Life with Basket, Three Sea Urchins and a Lamp
October 19, 1946
Oleoresinous paint and charcoal on reused canvas
35.5 × 85.5 cm
Musée Picasso, Antibes
MPA 1946. 1.9
ImageArt, photo Claude Germain
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

Still Life with Basket, Three Sea Urchins and a Lamp - Pablo Picasso 1

07 From Earth, Water and Fire

Earth, water and fire are the key ingredients in both cooking and pottery, two activities closely linked to the origins of humanity. In 1946 Picasso visited the Madoura pottery workshop, in Vallauris, owned by Suzanne and Georges Ramié. He went back the following year with a few ideas of his own. It was the beginning of Picasso the ceramicist.

He took this new artistic activity very seriously and had soon mastered its ins and outs. In ceramics, as in cooking, the ingredients, condiments and cooking process are key. The relationship between them determines the quality of the pottery, which in Picasso’s case often featured food such as sardines, sole, fried eggs, sausages…


Pablo Picasso
Bullfight and Fish (verso: Faces)
Cannes, [16 April] 1957
Thrown red earthenware with applied fish (white earthenware impressed with fish skeleton, transparent glaze, grey patina; cracked and repaired), decorated with patina and black oxide, partial brushed transparent glaze
42 cm (diameter)
Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Gift of Jacqueline Picasso, 1982
MPB 112.446
Photo: Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photograph, Gasull Fotografia.
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Picasso in La Californie making Bullfight and Fish (verso: Faces)
Cannes, April 1957
Modern digital copy by inkjet
50 x 60 cm
David Douglas Duncan’s Archive
David Douglas Duncan
Arxiu Museu Picasso de Barcelona
Photo Arxiu Museu Picasso, Barcelona
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

Bullfight and Fish (verso: Faces) - Pablo Picasso 1
 - Picasso in La Californie making Bullfight and Fish (verso: Faces) 2

08 Open-Air Cooking

“When I look at Déjeuner sur l’herbe, I think: ‘Trouble ahead.’” Such was Picasso’s opinion of this famous painting, and he kept up a constant dialogue with Manet’s work. In parallel, he renewed his interest in the open air, both in the countryside and by the sea. Eating outdoors always reminded Picasso of simple country life: in the Spain he still remembered and in the south of France, where he lived. The food in the foreground of this piece reminds us that eating is one of our body’s vital needs. Without sublimating it, Picasso places it at the heart of nature. In this way, the luncheon on the grass is an expression of the joy of life.


Pablo Picasso
The Luncheon on the Grass after Manet
March 3–August 20, 1960
Oil on canvas
130 × 195 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris.
Gift by Pablo Picasso, 1979
MP 215
RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

The Luncheon on the Grass after Manet - Pablo Picasso 1

09 Printmaking Recipes

Picasso loved engraving, etching and lithography. Not for nothing did he spend seventy years of his life on printmaking.

When he entered the world of original prints, Picasso ceased to be an independent artist creating pieces without much ado and instead had to undertake painstaking processes involving a succession of clearly defined tasks to be done within a certain time.

His prints were the result of a collaborative process with a fixed hierarchy, with Picasso at the head. He often delegated the technique stages of preparing or printing to artisans at the workshop, but would not accept any other interference in his work.

He worked with traditional printmaking techniques. Over the course of his creative career as a printmaker, Picasso explored the fundamental procedures, chemical recipes and operations and was constantly reinventing this art form. His prints started off tentatively but soon became revolutionary. Picasso the printmaker, like Picasso the cook, was constantly experimenting. Through trial and error, he came up with his own recipes for several of the techniques he used, such as linocuts.


Pablo Picasso
The Lobster
9 January 1949
Lithograph. Lithotint on zinc (Sabartés proof)
56.5 x 76 cm
Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Gift of Jaume Sabartés, 1962
MPB 70.104
Photo Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photograph, Gasull Fotografia
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018


Pablo Picasso
Still Life with a Glass by Lamplight
Mougins, March 19, 1962
Linocut done with a gouge
(Sabartés proof, V and definitive
62 × 75 cm
Museu Picasso, Barcelona.
Gift by Jaume Sabartés, 1964
MPB 70.322
Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Reproduccions fotogràfiques de Gasull Fotografia
© Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018

The Lobster - Pablo Picasso 1
Still Life with a Glass by Lamplight - Pablo Picasso 2

Mauri's room What is cooking?

On the occasion of the exhibition Picasso’s Kitchen, Ferran Adrià asks the question What is cooking?, with the conviction that the answer may shed light on what it means to be human and creative. That is why the hall features a text by Picasso in which he explains the reason for dating all his work: to facilitate the emergence of a science built on creativity. Such is the ambition of the team at elBulli, who, following the restaurant’s closing in 2011, have spent their time cooking up ideas and developing a methodology called Sapiens, which promotes comprehension and creation in any field or sector. Some of the milestones resulting from the application of Sapiens to the culinary world may be found within this hall: from elBulli’s Catalogue raisonné, which contains 1,846 dishes, to the carousel of the three dimensions of the functional system of cooking: creation, reproduction and experience. The carousel is made up of flow charts that connect the three aspects and grant the diner as much creative power as the chef. Adrià’s sketches and paintings stand as visual instruments of gastronomic thought, which reflect on the relationship between human knowledge and the question commanding the hall, the answer to which exposes the magic that fuels certain everyday actions.


Ferran Adrià
Theory of Culinary Evolution
2013. Published in the book Com va començar la cuina. Teoria de l’evolució culinària. Barcelona: Bullipedia / CaixaBank, 2015. pp. 200–201 and 212–213. Arxiu-elBullifoundation / Pepo Segura


Ferran Adrià
What is cooking?
Exhibition, Mauri’s room in Museu Picasso. Photo: Diego Bustamante

Theory of Culinary Evolution - Ferran Adrià 1
What is cooking? - Ferran Adrià 2