g. stein: life, works, innovations, picasso


I mecenati del 20° secolo – la famiglia Stein

Getrude Stein and her brothers, Michael and Leo, belonged to (appartenevano) a wealthy (benestante) Pittisburg family who moved to (si trasferì) France after making a great fortune (fortuna in denaro) with Omnibus Railway and Cable Company in San Francisco (società di comunicazioni). These young Americans, well-bred (ben allevati) and well-educated (colti), were attracted by Europe, by old and new art, and rented (affittarono) houses both in Italy and France. In 1903 Leo Stein bought his first work by Paul Cezanne, When Gertrude joined him (si unì) in Paris at 27 Rue de Fleurus, she soon befriended (divenne amica) to Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and became a passionate collector (collezionista) of their works. In the decade between 1904 and1914, Gertrude and her brothers were the most active and important experts of Parisian avant-garde, fauvism and cubism and promoted an outstanding exhibition (promossero un’incredibile mostra di pittura) at Paris’ Grand Palais. In 1910 Rue de Fleurus became the centre of arts and artist. Particularly, on Saturday evenings, painters like Matisse and Picasso themselves (stessi) could be found there. Soon the two painters started an artistic struggle (lotta): who would have his most emblematic canvas (tela) in the homes of the Stein family? [images: the Steins’ collection in Rue de Fleurus and the house outside].

l’innovazione americana – Gertrude Stein

One of the main figures among the artists of the avant-gardes was Gertrude Stein (1874 –1946). Born in America, the writer spent most of her life in France where became a catalyst (catalizzatore) in the development (sviluppo) of modern art and literature. Her works, considered hallmarks (emblemi) of the 20th century literature, include Three Lives (1909), Tender buttons: objects, food, rooms (1914), Four Saints in Three Acts (libretto, 1929: music by Virgil Thomson, 1934), The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Picasso (1938), Reflections on the Atom Bomb (1946) and Alphabets and Birthdays (1957). Three Lives was Gertrude Stein’s first published work. It consists of three tales (racconti) – The Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena – which tell about independent stories all set in the fictional (inventata) town of Bridgepoint. Melanctha, in particular, is an unconventional novella (romanzo breve) that focuses (che si incentra) upon the distinctions and combinations of race, sex, gender (genere), and female physical condition. The character of Melanctha represents the internal emotional struggles (lotte) to find a meaning (significato) in a tumultuous world. [image: Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso ]

life and works- One of the main figures among the artists of the avant-gardes was Gertrude Stein (1874 –1946), an American writer who spent most of her life in France where became a catalyst in the development of modern art and literature. Her works, considered hallmarks (emblem) of the 20th century literature, include Three Lives (1909), Tender buttons: objects, food, rooms (1914), Four Saints in Three Acts (libretto, 1929: music by Virgil Thomson, 1934), The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Picasso (1938), Reflections on the Atom Bomb (1946) and Alphabets and Birthdays (1957). Three Lives was Gertrude Stein’s first published work. It consists of three stories – The Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena – which tell about independent stories all set in the fictional (inventata) town of Bridgepoint. Especially Melanctha, is an unconventional novella (romanzo breve) that focuses (che si incentra) upon the distinctions and combinations of race, sex, gender, and female physical condition. The character of Melanctha represents the internal emotional struggles (lotte) to find a meaning (significato)in a tumultuous world.

Stein and Picasso –

Getrude Stein and her brothers, Michael and Leo, belonged to a wealthy Pittisburg family who moved to France after making a great fortune with the railway business. These young Americans, well-bred and well-educated, were attracted by Europe, by old and new art, and rented (affittarono) houses both in Italy and France. In 1903 Leo Stein bought his first work by Paul Cezanne, and when Gertrude joined him in Paris at 27 rue de Fleurus. Gerrude was friend also to Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and soon became a passionate collector of their works. Between 1904 to 1914, Gertrude and her brothers became the most active and important experts of Parisian avant-garde, fauvism and cubism and promoted an outstanding exhibition (mostra di pittura) at Paris’ Grand Palais. In 1910 rue de Fleurus was the centre of arts and artist and particularly on Saturday evenings, painters like Matisse and Piacsso themselves could be found there. Soon the two artists started an artistic struggle: who would have his most emblematic canvas (tela) in the homes of the Stein family?

All the way up to the strikingly modern house that Le Corbusier built for them in 1926, Sarah and Michael kept the habit of being avant-garde, scandalizing the fanatics of purism who wondered what modern furniture was doing in the white rooms of the Vaucresson villa. Building a replica of the rue de Fleurus house or the rue Christine apartment, where Alice and Gertrude moved in 1938, was out of the question for the museum. But an important part of the Stein style is lost in this presentation.

Nowadays, reuniting the paintings shown at the Stein homes over a decade means borrowing from private and public collections in North America, France and Switzerland. Their prodigious collection resisted neither the disputes nor the inexorable erosion of the family fortune, nor the soaring prices of Matisse and Picasso’s work. The Steins created a paradox: by defending and advertizing their idols, the Steins ended up no longer being able to afford them. What Gertrude was still able to buy in 1912 or 1913, either via the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, or by exchanging paintings, was out of her reach 10 years later.

In the interwar period, her books and speaking tours in the United States, despite providing her with a growing glory, did not allow her to reach the level of the new incredibly wealthy American collectors – people like Barnes, Guggenheim or Rockefeller. Picabia, for whom she had a late revelation in the 1930s, was already a little expensive for her. Therefore, from time to time, Gertrude would sell a masterpiece. The title cards in the exposition helpfully state when these separations took place. Only one painter escaped this fate and continue to reign until the death of Gertrude Stein in 1946 – It was, of course, Pablo Picasso.

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