We consider ourselves lucky, because Restaurant 7 Portes has always had notable artists among its clients, and we have gathered interesting anecdotes over the years. Picasso owed us for a number of coffees when he was a young student at the Escola de Belles Arts and lived in the neighbourhood. Miró was inspired by our dishes to create some of his works. The food and the place have been inspiring.

Over time, an outstanding collection of paintings and drawings have been hung on the walls of 7 Portes. Many Catalan painters of the last 170 years and other international artists are represented. You are welcome to visit us and discover this collection, where you will find small and large marvels, museum pieces and delicate drawings.

Cuisine and art, the art of the cuisine.
THE FLOURISHING OF ART IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

In Barcelona, the nineteenth century was a period of enthusiasm and conflict, progress and growth. The city’s middle classes promoted a process of modernization, urban development and sophistication, a brilliant example of which is the Porxos d’en Xifré building. Catalan paintings and pictorial records of both the Renaissance and Modernisme fit in perfectly here. We find an enigmatic ballet dancer, captured by  Modest Urgell, using an impressionist technique, reminiscent of the theatres and cabarets of the early twentieth century in Avinguda del Paral·lel or at the Liceu Opera House. The Mediterranean and Slavic delicacy of Olga Sacharoff and the ethereal balance of Xavier Valls show the continuity of these pictorial values.

Modest Urgell (1839-1919)

Urgell was not just another symbolist. There is something fascinating and radical in the austerity of his compositions, as Joan Miró discovered and expressed in his deep admiration of the painter. The melancholy of his sunsets speak of the passage of life, but also of the beauty that we can find in the most humble of places, and they transmit tranquillity.

Marià Fortuny (1838-1874)

Fortuny was a daring orientalist with his loose brushstrokes and intense luminism. He delicately evoked the refined, exotic, vivid, legendary beauty of traditional Maghreb. Here he depicts a character with noble delicacy and poetic dandyism. Fortuny was an international celebrity in his time and his genius inspired Dalí, who once said: “Prim, Gaudí, Fortuny are from Reus; me too”.

Arcadi Mas i Fondevila (1832-1934)

The intense poetry of a modest corner of the countryside that is both serene and exuberant, was made possible by the vibrancy of Arcadi Mas i Fondevilla’s brushstrokes and the subtlety of light and shadow. A sensual and dynamic painter, he was one of the pillars of the School of Sitges, which would open the way for the Modernisme movement.

CATALAN ILLUSTRATION: IRONY AND TENDERNESS

The illustrations in L’Esquella de la Torratxa or Campana de Gràcia, magazines that were classic examples of satire in the media in Catalonia, show the importance of illustration and caricature through the art of ingenuity, criticism, social portrayal and the pleasure of entertainment. Illustration has an important place in our restaurant, and is often the source of intelligent, witty conversation. This substantial collection takes us on a journey through past and present characters and customs, with the sentimentalism of Junceda, the humour of Cornet and the costumbrismo of Benejam.

Another aspect of drawing is represented by the worldly elegance of a Florit or an art deco piece by Penagos. Cesc o Montesol continued to work with this sensitivity up to the present time. Mariscal is also present with Cobi, the Olympic mascot that he first put on paper at 7 Portes, when he wet his finger in a glass of wine and drew Cobi on one of the Restaurant’s napkins.

Ricard Opisso (1880- 1966)

Opisso is a legendary figure in Catalan drawing. From his participation in meetings at the Quatre Gats cafe to his humorous vignettes, Opisso made sarcastic humour an art drawn with inventiveness and energy. He was admired for his flair for depicting women, such as this uneasy traveller, a local predecessor of pin-ups, whose glamour is tinged with irony.

Ramon Miró (1874-1927)

Beyond the better-known names, the collection enables us to rediscover the quality of draftsmen such as R. Miró, who did his best work in advertisements. One example is this piece, which is surprising in its modernity and graphic inventiveness. The rain makes the advert appear and becomes a symbol of its inescapable presence.

THE EMERGENCE OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Under the protective presence of Picasso, contemporary art has always had a place at 7 Portes, through chance encounters and affinities. The succulent watercolours of Francesc Artigau, a pioneer of neo-figurative art, and the realism of Letícia Feduchi are found together with the geometric abstraction of Adolfo Estrada and Andreu Alfaro. Among the creators of various works, we can find architects such as Federico Correa or Montse Ribas. There is a still life by the unmistakable Nazario, who is capable of shifting between underground and high art.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Antoni Tàpies (1923 – 2012)

Tàpies represents the continuity of Joan Miró’s spirit of exacting research, with a strong sense of civic responsibility. His posters and lithographs, with their distinguishing features, bring together symbols and values that are of use to the community, as a tribute to the masters of culture. Tàpies is unlike all other abstract painters. He attained an emblematic dimension. Writing, calligraphy, the strength of his brushstrokes and the expressiveness of smudges of paint are brought together in an unmistakable formula that transmits energy and mystery.

Christo (1935)

Christo has become famous for his large-scale projects in which he wraps up monuments such as the Pont-Neuf in Paris, or hangs sumptuous curtains across natural settings. He has presented two projects for Barcelona: wrapping up the Columbus Monument and the fountain in Plaça Espanya by Josep Maria Jujol. Although they have not been carried out, the plans and drawings reveal the poetic strength of his procedure. The paradox is that hiding a familiar landscape can help to reveal it and see it with new, fascinated eyes.

MEMORABILIA: DOCUMENTS ABOUT 7 PORTES

Did you know that Miró kept the Auca de les 7 Portes, a cartoon about the restaurant, in his library? We like to keep documents that have a sentimental value and take us back in time. Our collection fills us with happy, light-hearted nostalgia that is far from melancholic. It includes advertisements, the likeable Comtes de Calleja stories that were given to children who visited the house in a tradition that we continue today, and the poems of Just Blanquer, the waiter-poet.

Photographs by Francesc Català-Roca show the fascinating activity that took place around the Estació de França.

Milton Glaser (1929)

This American artist is the inventor of one of the most popular icons of postmodern graphic design: the “I Love NY” logo. Glaser has strong ties with Barcelona and is one of the restaurant’s clients, which is why he designed a collection of wine bottle labels, to commemorate the 175th anniversary in 2011. The labels depict an imaginary bestiary that evokes communion with nature and its mysteries.

Perico Pastor (1953)

Pastor has managed to create an unmistakable, essential, modern, fresh synthesis between the tradition of eastern drawing and western watercolours. His careful agility and poetry of synthesis is drawn from eastern drawing; his fluid freshness and luminous vivacity from western watercolours.
The full collection can be found in Les 7 Portes: Amics i personatges (The 7 Portes: Friends and Celebrities), a book in which Marius Carol outlines the profiles of some of the most important people who have visited us.

AUTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL MARKS

In addition to their anecdotal and sentimental value, 7 Portes’s collection of dedications provides an entertaining tableau of writing and sketches. Dalí, and Antonio Saura drew arches, whilst Albert Ràfols-Casamada opted for one of his evocative windows. Writers’ and actors’ creativity and lack of inhibition is often surprising, including the flower drawn by Gabriel García- Márquez, , the energetically drawn masks of Charlton Heston, or the bright timidity of Woody Allen.

Texts by Àlex Mitrani