The Creative Urge

The creative urge


TALK of nihilism, catalanism, anarchism, and modernism filled the smoky air of Els Quatre Gats, Picasso’s main haunt in Barcelona. Els Quatre Gats was from the beginning a huge success, “a Gothic tavern for those in love with the North,” where Uerillo staged puppet shows, where Rusinol, Casas, and Nonell, among other painters, showed their work, and where anyone with an apocalyptic gleam in his eye would gravitate to discuss the new ideas. Enthusiasm contended with a sense of futility, and the urge to create with the compulsion to destroy. The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin was one of the imported heroes of Els Quatre Gats: “Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life. The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”


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