Tribute to the world of hats

Until June 9, an exhibition at the Palau Foundation in Caldes d’Estrac explores the art world’s lasting passion for the iconic item of clothing

Poet Josep Palau i Fabre was madly in love with Greta Garbo. While their love was an impossible fantasy, they might have made a good couple, as they both shared a passion for hats. The poet’s most emblematic hat is now kept by the Antoni de Montpalau Foundation and, until June 9, is on display in the exhibition Chapeau! De Casas i Picasso a Balenciaga i Pertegaz, at the Palau Foundation in Caldes d’Estrac. In fact, some 250 hats are on display, all from the Antoni de Montpalau Foundation in Sabadell, which is headed by Josep Casamartina, the exhibition’s curator.

Picasso’s name appears in the exhibition’s name, because like Palau i Fabre, the master artist was also a fan of hats and many appear in his work. Casamartina says it was after Picasso met Marie-Thérèse Walter trying on a hat in 1929 that he began to do portraits of women wearing hats and two of them lent by the Picasso Museum, and another three lent by Banc Sabadell, are among the treasures on display in the exhibition.

Hats also played a key role in the work of another great artist, as Ramon Casas turned the hat into a symbol of feminine elegance in his work. In fact, as the 20th century progressed, hats continued to play a key role for artists, as can be seen by their symbolic use by members of the Dau al Set group.

Yet the exhibition goes beyond the connections between hats and art, and on the second floor explores a hundred years of hats, in all their forms and from all social classes. There are some 40 men’s hats and some 200 women’s hats oon display. Above all, the exhibit is a tribute to Catalonia’s hat-making industry, and the big surprise is that such a retrospective has never been put on before.

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