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Exhibitions/ The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde / About the Exhibition

About the Exhibition


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The following texts were written by Rebecca Rabinow for the Metropolitan Museum's presentation of The Steins Collect.

Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are household names today, but that was not always the case. In the mid-1930s the author Gertrude Stein explained the situation when she first arrived in Paris: "It is very difficult now that everybody is accustomed to everything to give some idea of the uneasiness once felt when one first looked at all these pictures on the walls." This exhibition focuses on avant-garde painting that an American family living in Paris championed during the early years of the twentieth century.

The siblings Gertrude, Leo, and Michael Stein, together with Michael's wife, Sarah, were highly educated, fluent in several languages, intellectually curious, and eager to embrace new ideas. While their income was derived from investments and rental properties in San Francisco, they were not extremely wealthy. After settling in Paris, they collected hundreds of inexpensive pictures by a group of relatively unknown artists whom they befriended. The Steins opened their apartments on Saturday evenings to anyone with a reference in hand. Scores of international artists, collectors, and dealers passed through their doors to see and discuss the latest artistic developments. Ultimately, the Steins' enthusiasm for avant-garde art—especially the work of Matisse and Picasso—had an indelible impact on its development for decades to come.

Gallery One: The Steins before 1900; Contemporary Art on View in Paris, ca. 1900–1904

Gallery Two: 27, Rue de Fleurus; Leo Stein's First Purchases in Paris

Gallery Three: Sarah and Michael Stein at 58, Rue Madame

Gallery Four: The Steins Friendships with Artists

Gallery Five: The Saturday Salons; Matisse's Bonheur de Vivre (The Joy of Life); La Coiffure

Gallery Six: Sarah and Michael

Gallery Seven: Gertrude and Alice at 27, Rue de Fleurus; Picasso's Carnet 10, 1907

Gallery Eight: Sarah and Michael after World War I; The Villa Stein-de Monzie

Gallery Nine: Four Saints in Three Acts; Gertrude and Alice