Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Steins Collect - Met

 Wouldn't it be nice to receive a French handwritten postcard...
 With an original Henri Matisse drawing on the back?
 The Steins Collect opened at the Met last week. It's a don't-miss exhibit.
 If you're crazy for art/Paris/expat lit/old photos you'll love it.
 A woman looking very Gertrude Stein-esque.
The Stein siblings—Gertrude, Leo, Michael (and his wife Sarah)—were important patrons of modern art in Paris during the first years of the 20th century. This American family collected hundreds of artworks by a group of relatively unknown artists with whom they became close friends.The Steins opened their apartments on Saturday evenings  to anyone (just like in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris) who arrived with a reference in hand. At these salons, scores of international artists, collectors, and dealers passed through their doors in order to see and discuss the latest artistic developments, long before they were on view in museums. This threesome easily fit the classic sib setup in my opinion. Eldest Michael Stein handled the finances and kept them all afloat in their collecting endeavors. Middle son, Leo dropped out of school and wondered Europe - he was first to start buying art. And youngest sib, Gertrude Stein was certainly wild and independent.
 This is a big show. The Stein's varied collections are astonishing. Many paintings will be familiar like Picasso's 'blue period'  figure.
 Or Cezanne's portrait of his son.
 Many you'll see for the 1st time like this Cezanne still life.
 A Matisse sketch of his daughter Marguerite reading.
 One of Leo Stein's first purchases (since there's a dog in it, ahem, I had to show it) - by Raoul du Gardier acquired 1903.
Matisse's painting, 'Tea', 1919. The samovar on the table once belonged to Sarah. She traded it to the artist for a drawing. There are amusing stories behind every painting on display. The Steins only bought from artists they knew personally.
It was not uncommon for Leo to have lunch with Matisse and dinner with Picasso in a single day. Both artists sent the Steins sketches and reports of their works in progress.
 I was enthralled with wall-sized photos of family gatherings.
 Gertrude and Alice at 26, rue de Fleurus.
 Walls covered floor-to-ceiling in treasures. 
The accompanying audio tape is full of historic family anecdotes and Gertrude reading her criptic poems.
 The Met gift shop had me drooling over this Bistro de Paris dinnerware set plus other Paris nonsense - Eiffel Tower dish towels, wine waiter aprons, Gertrude's scarves, mon dieu!
 They have loads of timely reading. I was pleased to see David Downie's Paris, Paris - my current addiction on the Kindle - making it so easy to access Paris while still in NYC
The Steins Collect is on view till June 3rd 2012 at the Met, so do try to visit. This post is just the tip of a fabulous iceberg.


  1. I have heard so much over the years of the Stein's collection. I would love, love to see this exhibit!

    Art by Karena

  2. Great exhibit. Speaking of Gertrude, I loved Kathy Bates' portrayal of her in Midnight in Paris.

    What were Gertrude's scarves like?

  3. Oh. This looks really good. Want to go.

  4. Amy:
    Gertrude's scarves were droopy!
    narrow, pleated, brightly colored, but she dressed mostly in drab neutrals
    she just looped it around her neck
    not very Frenchie at all

  5. I visited the Stein exhibition in Paris and enjoyed it very much. So nice to see this post on the exhibition in the Met. Enjoy!

  6. Oh, I think that sounds marvelous,Carol! I have always been intrigued with her and Alice B Toklas. Wonderful!!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Ha, I had the exhibit stuff up to do a post on it but decided to do one at the Phillips Collection since it's here & I'm sure to go. Not sure if I'll be up in NYC for this...anyway, thanks.

    I came here to get a link really to tweet to someone (handwriting)...

    Win win for moi:)


  8. i have 2 words.

    goose bumps


  9. the Stein Collection is fabulous. When it was in SF it was divided between a "portrait" of Gertrude and Alice B. at the Jewish Museum and the actual collection at SF MOMA.
    I thought it lost some impact presenting it that way....certainly the exhibit at the Jewish Museum.

    But, oh the collection and what a time to have lived.

    Kathy Bates did a great job as Stein in Midnight, dontchathink? Stein might not have been as nice as Bates presented her.


  10. Salut Carol,

    Thanks for showing us more from the Stein collection. I am Parisian and wasn't aware of it.
    I love the vintage photographs of bygone Paris.

    Many greetngs from Paris!

  11. Guess where I'll be going on 1 April? This was on to"TO DO" list when I first arrive in Paris. It will be a most fabulous iceberg I'm sure! If you have time have a squiz at the Matisse post I did from GOMA, Brisbane. That, too, was a brilliant exhibition. A bientot.

  12. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I saw this exhibit in San Francisco. It is absolutely phenomenal! I urge everyone to go if they can. Thanks Carol for the post.

  13. Geri, NJ6:05 PM

    Thanks so much...my weekend is planned!

  14. I really love those photos inside Gertrude Stein's Paris apartment.
    I've never seen those before. I never knew about her family before!
    Thanks for the education!

  15. I envy you your museums. This show looks like a great one too. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  16. I'm going to the website to look at the exhibit catalog...dang! I want to see this one!

  17. There you go again, Ms. Arty... I have to get to the Met bientot.

  18. Carol, I whisked through your photos, because I do want to think I'll be seeing some of those pictures for the very first time at the Met.

    Might be tomorrow.


  19. Oh to visit the Met again. The Stein's collection- a peek into the Paris we all fell in love with. Thank you so much Carol for sharing the exhibit today... I feel like I was there.

  20. What a wondrous show, Carol! Wished I could see it, a private collection is always something special.

    I went to see the "Gustav Klimt / Josef Hoffmann" exhibition at the Belvedereyesterday and kept thinking that you would love it. There was even a handwritten postcard by Klimt!

  21. Ms. Arty4:22 AM

    Not to worry Frances.
    There are rooms and rooms of so many more paintings to keep you occupied.

    Merisi: I would love to see the Klimpt/Hoffman show. I must write more hand-written postcards. It seems to be de rigueur for artistes!

  22. Great exhibition!!! I saw it in the Grand Palais in Paris. I just love the Matisse painting 'Tea'.
    ~ Marie

  23. Carol, thanks sooo much for this post! I loved
    getting to view even a few of the Stein's treasures.

  24. Thanks so much for the great post, and for being obsessed (in a nice way) with my book "Paris, Paris"... A bientot! Merci, David Downie

  25. I liked all of it, especially the Gertrude and Alice in black and white in their family room. Seems very real, when it was long ago I mean. The smokiness in the parlor and the walls filled with art work; depicting 'a day in the life'.

    Thank you!

  26. Dear  ,

    now this wonderfull exhibition,"The Steins Collect;Matisse,Picasso,Cezanne and the Parisian Avant Garde" in NewYork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ,is over .

    It was a little more than twelve months the Steins’s Year .Perhaps more than one million visitors in the five exhibitions .

    What a pleasure to see the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira .

    Who was as Picasso an antifascist and antinazi artist .Persecuted by Franco and the Nazis .And he is in this exhibition ,thanks to Rebecca Rabinow and Edward Burns.
    So Riba-Rovira is beside Tchelitchew and Balthus and Francis Rose near Picabia and Picasso in the last room of this exhibition with Cézanne, Matisse .

    You have an interesting article in Appollo London Revew about him .And also in Artes Magazine from San Francisco where the exhibition was before .

    The main revelation is in the mention beside the picture with the Preface Gertrude Stein wrote for first Riba-Rovira's exhibition in the Galerie Roquepine in Paris on 1945 .

    Where we can read Gertrude Stein writing Riba-Rovira "will go farther than Cezanne...will succeed in where Picasso failed...I am fascinated " by Riba-Rovira Gertrude Stein tells us .

    And you are you also fascinated indeed as Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira ?
    Me I am when I see « L’Arlequin » on the free access website of « Galeria Muro ».

    Gertrude Stein spoke in this same document not only Picasso and Cezanne but also Matisse and  Juan Gris .
    Riba-Rovira went each week in Gertrude Stein's saloon rue Christine with Masson, Hemingway and others. By Edward Burns and Carl Van Vechten we can know Riba-Rovira did others portraits of Gertrude Stein .

    But we do not know where they are ;and you do you know perhaps ?

    With this portrait we do not forget it is the last time Gertrude Stein sat for an artist who is Riba-Rovira .Picasso the first .
    This exhibition presents us a world success with this last painting portrait before she died .And her last Gertrude Stein's Art Retrospective before dead .

    It illuminates the tone as an esthetic light over that exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York thanks to Curator Rebecca Rabinow .
    Coming from San Francisco "Seeing five stories" in the Jewish museum to Washington in National Portrait Gallery .And after Paris, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for our pleasure .

    And the must is to see for the first time in the same place portraits by Picasso, Picabia, Riba-Rovira, Rose ,Tall-Coat, Valloton .Never before it was .

    You have the translate of Gertrude Stein's Riba-Rovira Preface on english Gertrude Stein's page on Wikipedia and in the catalog of this Roquepine exhibition you can see in first place the mention of this portrait .And also other pictures Gertrude Stein bought to Riba-Rovira .
    There is another place where you can see now Riba-Rovira's works in an exhibition in Valencia in Spain "Homenage a Gertrude Stein" by Riba-Rovira in Galeria Muro ,if you like art ...

    We do not missed today that all over Europe a very bad wind is blowing again bringing the worth in front of us .And we must know that at least were two antinazis and antifascists in this exhibition but the only one fighting weapons in hands would be Riba-Rovira who did one of the first three « affiches » supporting Republicans in the beguining Spanish civil war .

    Seeing the Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira in the Metropolitain Museum of New York with Picasso ,Cézanne ,Matisse we feel a recreation of spirit .

  27. The main document from Wikipedia and Yale University :

    Stein's preface to the exhibition by Francisco Riba Rovira at Roquepine Gallery in May 1945:[72]
    It is inevitable that when we really need someone we find him. The person you need attracts you like a magnet. I returned to Paris, after these long years spent in the countryside and I needed a young painter, a young painter who would awaken me. Paris was magnificent, but where was the young painter? I looked everywhere: at my contemporaries and their followers. I walked a lot, I looked everywhere, in all the galleries, but the young painter was not there. Yes, I walk a lot, a lot at the edge of the Seine where we fish, where we paint, where we walk dogs (I am of those who walk their dogs). Not a single young painter!
    One day, on the corner of a street, in one of these small streets in my district, I saw a man painting. I looked at him; at him and at his painting, as I always look at everybody who creates something I have an indefatigable curiosity to look and I was moved. Yes, a young painter!
    We began to speak, because we speak easily, as easily as in country roads, in the small streets of the district. His story was the sad story of the young people of our time. A young Spaniard who studied in fine arts in Barcelona: civil war; exile; a concentration camp; escape. Gestapo, another prison, another escape... Eight lost years! If they were lost, who knows? And now a little misery, but all the same the painting. Why did I find that it was him the young painter, why? I visited his drawings, his painting: we speak.
    I explained that for me, all modern painting is based on what Cézanne nearly made, instead of basing itself on what he almost managed to make. When he could not make a thing, he hijacked it and left it. He insisted on showing his incapacity: he spread his lack of success: showing what he could not do, became an obsession for him. People influenced by him were also obsessed by the things which they could not reach and they began the system of camouflage. It was natural to do so, even inevitable: that soon became an art, in peace and in war, and Matisse concealed and insisted at the same time on that Cézanne could not realize, and Picassoconcealed, played and tormented all these things.
    The only one who wanted to insist on this problem, was Juan Gris. He persisted by deepening the things which Cézanne wanted to do, but it was too hard a task for him: it killed him.
    And now here we are, I find a young painter who does not follow the tendency to play with what Cézanne could not do, but who attacks any right the things which he tried to make, to create the objects which have to exist, for, and in themselves, and not in relation.
    This young painter has his weaknesses and his strengths. His force will push him in this road. I am fascinated and that is why he is the young painter who I needed. He is Francisco Riba Rovira.


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