|E. 81st Street looking toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|The Steins in the courtyard of 27 rue de Fleurus, ca. 1905. From left: Leo Stein, Allan Stein, Gertrude Stein, Theresa Ehrman, Sarah Stein, Michael Stein (The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).|
The siblings Leo and Gertrude Stein shared a studio at 27 Rue de Fleurus where they hung their collection and he painted and she wrote. They were great networkers (famously introducing Picasso to Matisse in late 1905), opening their studio every Saturday to anyone with a reference. As a result hundreds of people were exposed to the avant-garde art of the time.
The Met exhibition includes films, photographs and letters of the Steins. Soon after the entrance to the show is a mock-up of Gertrude and Leo's studio with a series of wall-sized projected slides of the studio from contemporary photographs. This gives a pretty good idea of what it was like: it was small (460 square feet), the work was hung floor to ceiling, and there was very little furniture. It must have been an intense and mind-boggling experience for their guests.
Leo became progressively deaf and eventually he could not participate in the Saturday salons, so, in 1912, he decided to get his own space. He and Gertrude divided the collection (amicably except for a fight over a Cezanne) with Leo taking the Renoirs, Gertrude taking the Picassos, and the two of them sharing the rest. Soon the visitors to the salon, now hosted by Gertrude alone, were mostly literary people rather than visual-art people.
I like seeing familiar paintings in a different setting because I discover new things about them.
|Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat, 1905, oil on canvas, 31 ¾ x 23 ½ inches|
(San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).
|Henri Matisse, Tea, 1919, oil on canvas, 55 x 83 inches, (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).|
|Matisse, Tea, 1919, detail of the dog|
|Henri Matisse, Blue Nude, 1907, oil on canvas, about 36 x 55 inches (Cone collection, Baltimore Museum of Art).|
|Pablo Picasso, Head of a Sleeping Woman (Study for Nude with Drapery), summer 1907. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 18 3/8 inches (Estate of John Hay Whitney).|
|Picasso, Head of Sleeping Woman, detail.|