Els Quatre Gats
Els Quatre Gats (Catalan pronunciation: [əls ˈkwatɾə ˈɡats], Catalan for "The Four Cats"), often written Els 4 Gats, was a café in Barcelona (Catalonia) which opened on 12 June 1897. It also operated as a hostel, a cabaret, a pub and a restaurant. Active until 1903, Els Quatre Gats became one of the main centers of Modernisme in Barcelona. The artist Ramon Casas i Carbó largely financed this bar on the ground floor of Casa Martí (1896), a building by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch in Carrer Montsió near the center of Barcelona. Els Quatre Gats was reconstructed during the transition to democracy in 1978. Pablo Picasso visited this pub–restaurant often in his early art career.
“Four Cats” is a colloquial Catalan expression for “only a few people” and the name of Els Quatre Gats is derived from this saying. The four founders of the café—Pere Romeu, Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, and Miguel Utrillo—also chose this name as a tribute to Le Chat Noir, “The Black Cat,” a celebrated Parisian café whose creator, Rodolphe Salis, had recently died. They modeled Els Quatre Gats largely after the Parisian café.
A center of Modernisme
Other major artists who met in this cafe were Santiago Rusiñol and Miquel Utrillo as well as the sculptor Julio González.
Els Quatre Gats was the inheritor of a legacy of tertulias and art reunions specific to Barcelona but also drew inspiration from the Parisian cabaret Le Chat Noir. Art exhibitions, literary and musical meetings, marionette shows and shadow plays also took place there.
Ramon Casas' partners in the enterprise were Pere Romeu, who largely played host at the bar, as well as Rusiñol and Utrillo. The bar hosted revolving art exhibits, including one of the first one-man shows by Pablo Picasso; the most prominent piece in its permanent collection was a lighthearted Casas self-portrait, depicting him smoking a pipe while pedaling a tandem bicycle with Romeu as his stoker.
Like Le Chat Noir, Els 4 Gats attempted in 1899 its own literary and artistic magazine, to which Casas was a major contributor. That was short-lived (fifteen issues), but was soon followed by Pèl & Ploma, which would slightly outlast the bar itself, and Forma (1904–1908), to which Casas also contributed. Pèl & Ploma sponsored several prominent art exhibitions, including Casas' own well-received first solo show (1899 at Sala Parés), which brought together a retrospective of his oil paintings as well as a set of charcoal sketches of contemporary figures prominent in Barcelona's cultural life.
The bar closed in 1903 when Romeu was unable to keep it open because of debts. It was later used by the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc until the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In the 1970s, a group of restaurateurs took steps to revive it, and it reopened in 1989.
- McCully, M. (1978) Els Quatre Gats: Art in Barcelona around 1900. Princeton University Press, Princeton. p. 64
- McCully, M. (1978) Els Quatre Gats: Art in Barcelona around 1900. Princeton University Press, Princeton.