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Matisse - Woman with hat

The Stein's Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde. Metropolitan Museum Feb 23 - June 3, 2012.


In 1905, Leo Stein saw his first Picasso drawing at a furniture store.  He bought 2 large paintings by the artist soon afterward.  That Fall, Leo and Gertrude, to become the most famous collecting brother and sister of the 20th century, bought Matisse's Woman with Hat - 1905.  The American, Leo Stein, then living in France with his sister Gertrude, wrote a friend of his recent purchases, "My recent accessions are unfortunately by people you never have heard of so there is no use trying to describe them.  He had purchased "a work that had made everybody laugh plus 2 pictures by a young Spaniard named Picasso whom I consider a genius of great magnitude."


Henri Matisse  Woman in Hat - 1905                     

Gertrude particularly enjoyed her visits to Picasso at Bateau Lavoi by the collection of artist's studios in Montmartre.  Savvy and in need of money, the young Picasso recognized that the Stein family, now joined by their brother Michael and his wife Sarah, could be helpful to him and painted their portraits.


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Gertrude Stein 1905-6

Saturday Salons followed at Gertrude and Leo Steins.  Alice Toklis had by then become a member of their household.  Michael and Sarah held their own Salon Saturdays.   The Steins were 'net-workers-.  They famously introduces Matisse to Picasso 1905-6 and provided access to art of th Parisian Avant-Garde to hundreds of artists, collectors and museum directors who might not havee seen it.  During this period, Picasso didn't exhibit and Matisse's works in the Salons could easily be lost among the mass of submissions.  The Salon des Independants had 5552 works listed in its catalogue.


Henri Matisse  Bonheur de Vivre (Joy of Live) 1906

Matisse's painting Bonheur de Vivre 1906 was a dominant work and of significant interest. It was too large for the artist's studio, and Leo coveted it.  The San Francisco earthquake had had a great effect on the Stein's family and friends in San Francisco, and upon his finances.  He could not afford the work at that moment, but offered to move the work from Matisse's studio and agreed to pay him the following year.   The work is presently in the Barnes Collection. 


Pablo Picasso  Jeune garçon au cheval- 1906

By 1906, Marisse was the acknowledged leader of the new school of painting, picasso in contrast was working in a more traditional style.  In 1907, Picasso went on the offensive.


Pablo Picasso  Study for Dryad 1907-8

It was 1910 before Leo Stein moved into his own apartment leaving Gertrude and Alice along with the Picasso's from their joint collection - Leo taking for himself, 12 Renoir's.  Leo was to spend his remaining years with his wife, between Italy, France and the United States, painting, writing and lecturing on Aesthetics.   Gertrude removed the frames from the works accentuatting her more orderly display.  She to focused on writing.  She exclaimed to the Editor of Vanity Fair, "I would be much more pleased if you were more interested in my work than in my personality."  Referring to her writing she said, "It really is the only literature that has come out of America since Henry James".  [Let me remind you of Gertrude Stein's 'way with words'.  " ....A rose, is a rose, is a rose...." part of the 1913 poem Sacred Emily, which appeared in the 1922 book Geography and Plays.]  Gertrude's friends noted,  "that Gertrude was doing the same thing in literature that Matisse and Picasso were doing in art."

Young artists purchased by Gertrude Stein, in her ever evolving collection included: Andre Masson, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Jacques Lipchitz, Pierre Tal-Coat, Bathus and Pavel Tchelitchew.  Of Andre Masson, Gertrude Stein wrote in The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1933) that she was: "...interested in the wandering line in his compositions."


Andre Masson    L'Origine du Monde  Watercolor and ink on paper, 1955  19.25 x 25.5 inches Signed and dated


The Michael and Sarah Stein Collection included at least seven Matisse still life paintings.  This early work shows Matisse assimilating the lessons of Cezanne using solidly rendered objects in primary color paint applied in diagonal parellel brush strokes with areas of the canvas left blank.


Henri Matisse  Still Life w Blue Jug 1900-03 

The Michael and Sarah Stein returned to California in 1935.  Michael died three years later.  Sarah opened their Palo Alto home to those interested in art.  Thanks to their making their collection available, scores of West coast artists including Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Motherwell were introduced to the art of Matisse. 

Don't let this opportunity slip by.  The Stein's Collect-Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde (Metropolitan Museum of Art thru June 3, 2012) is an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy numerous masterpieces spread now among many museums, that reflect the development particularly of two great artists, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, whose work lay at the root of much that developed in art in the first half of the 20th century and beyond.  The Steins' collecting stands as an inspiration to aspiring collectors.


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  • Dear , It is a wonderfull exhibition,"The Steins Collect;Matisse,Picasso,Cezanne and the Parisian Avant Garde" . And what a pleasure to see the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba- Rovira .Beside Tchelitchew and Balthus . And you have an interesting article in Appollo London Revew about .And also in Artes Magazine from San Francisco where the exhibition was before . And also the Preface Gertrude Stein wrote for his first 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 ? But Gertrude Stein spoke also in this same document about Matisse and Juan Gris .And we learn Riba-Rovira went each week in Gertrude Stein's saloon rue Christine . With 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 wonderful portrait we do not forget it is the last time Gertrude Stein sat for an artist who is Riba-Rovira . This exhibition presents us a world success with this last painting portrait before she died . Both ,it is one of the last text where she gives her last art vision .As a light over that exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York . Coming from San Francisco "Seeing five stories" to Washington and now 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, Tall-Coat, Valloton . 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 exhibition you can see in first place the mention of this portrait .And also other pictures Gertrude Stein bought him . And you have another place where you can see now Riba-Rovira's works it is an exhibition in Valencia in Spain "Homenage a Gertrude Stein" by Riba-Rovira in Galleria Muro ,if you like art ... Cesera

    comment by: Gertrude Stein & Riba-Rovira on 04/23/2012

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