Last weekend at SFMOMA was the opening of “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde”, an exhibition showcasing the energy, creativity, and artistic patronage of the Stein family: Gertrude, her brothers Leo, Michael and his wife Sarah. Already a hit with San Francisco Chronicle art critic, Kenneth Baker, he opened his review of the show, proclaiming: “What nerve they had!”
As American expatriates living in Paris, the Steins were absolutely pivotal in shaping the city’s vibrant cultural life in the early 20th century, aggressively promoting and collecting paintings of their close friends Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as emerging artists of the Parisian scene. Along the way they developed unparalleled holdings in modernist work by such figures as Paul Cézanne, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The accompanying catalog, featuring more than 600 images, explores the Steins’ impact on art-making and collecting practices in Europe and the United States; the intense sibling rivalries that developed around key artists and ideas; the roots of Leo’s aesthetic theories in the thought of William James and Bernard Berenson; Sarah and Michael’s role in founding the Académie Matisse; Gertrude’s complex relationship with Picasso and their artistic influence on each other; Le Corbusier’s radical villa design for the family; and how they created a new international standard of taste for modern art.
Later in our Fall 2011 season, we’re reviving two of Gertrude Stein’s works: Ida: A Novel and Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected Edition, which has undergone re-revisions from the version that Stein’s lover Alice B. Toklas previously altered to exclude mentions of Stein’s former lover; some as simple, but crucial, as the word/name “May” becoming “can.” For those who need their fix of Gertrude now and a little more history on Yale’s relationship with the modernist writer at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, check out our post on To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays, available now from YUP.