IN PICS: Picasso’s ties to the kitchen explored at Barcelona show

A deformed bottle of wine, a colander in the place of a woman's head or a ceramic plate with inlaid fish bones: For the first time, the intimate connection between Pablo Picasso's work and gastronomy is on display in his Barcelona museum.

IN PICS: Picasso's ties to the kitchen explored at Barcelona show
Photos: Pau Barrena / AFP

“It's a new vision of Picasso,” Emmanuel Guigon, director of the Picasso Museum in the Mediterranean seaside city, told AFP at Wednesday's inauguration of the exhibition “Picasso's Kitchen.”

“It seems weird but it isn't. Cooking is a theme that is in all Picasso's work and in all formats: paintings, sculptures, pottery and even poetry.”   

Strolling through the exhibition is like making one's way through a multi-course meal, with more than 180 works of art — some of them borrowed from other museums or private collections — scattered in 10 rooms.

Cherry on the cake — one room has been designed by Spanish gastronomy's Picasso, molecular gastronomy chef Ferran Adria, who has imposed his vision of the creative process in the kitchen with diagrams and photos of his dishes.   

Ferran Adria speaks next to “Young Boy with Lobster” by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Photo: AFP

READ ALSO:Chef Ferran Adrià to reopen Spain's El Bulli as food lab in 2019

Adrià, founder of the El Bulli restaurant which was voted world's best five times before closing in 2011, said Picasso and former FC Barcelona player and coach Johan Cruyff, one of football's most visionary figures who died in 2016, were his “two creative references”.

“To be here is a dream, twenty years ago this would have been impossible,” he said.

“But today in art there are people who are interested in what we are doing,an entire generation of chefs who want to be on the forefront.”   

“In a 100 years my dishes can't be shown in any museum,” Adria joked.   

“But to understand his system of creation and how he worked helps us to analyse and compare it to ours.”

'Metaphor of creation'

The exhibition, which will run until September 30th, “is not a catalogue of ingredients…it is a metaphor of creation”, of how an everyday objects becomes art or a memory, said the curator of the show, Androula Michel.   

Everyday objects such as a bottle of wine, a roasted chicken or fish are depicted by Picasso as disfigured still lifes in his cubist style.   

A colander represents the head of a woman in one sculpture while a painting of two leeks next to a skull depict the hardships in Paris during the Second World War.

The exhibition has borrowed works from around 30 museums and private collections, including some of Picasso's most famous creations such as his 1914 sculpture “Glass of Absinthe” and his 1914 painting “Restaurant”.   

Also on show is his “Bullfight and fish” ceramic plate in which Picasso incrusted the fish bones of a sole.

It is displayed alongside a photo taken by David Douglas Duncan of Picasso while he ate the fish in Cannes.

The relationship between Picasso's work and the kitchen “is something obvious that has never been explored before,” said Guigon.   

“I hope people will enjoy this menu a great deal,” he added.

By AFP's Daniel Bosque 


Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.