Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Steins Collect

The Steins CollectThis weekend I contended with the Sunday afternoon crowds at the SF MOMA to view The Steins Collect. The extensive exhibit, containing some of the biggest names in 20th art, takes up the entire 4th floor & requires timed entry. Besides paintings, the show includes the Steins' furniture, family photo albums, letters & other artifacts. It is fun to see photos of the Steins' homes, the walls hung with famous works by Picasso, Cezanne & Matisse, then to look around & see the same paintings on the gallery walls. It must have been a huge administrative feat to bring these works back together from the museums & private collections they were scattered to.

Matisse is well represented, but I was really happy to see many of the Picassos, including the early Boy Leading Horse, with its monumental yet tender figures. It is one of my favorite paintings in the MOMA. I started to recognize the hard brow line of the young Allan Stein, nephew of Gertrude. There is something more than child-like in the portraits of him by Picasso & Matisse. I enjoyed the set of toy dolls by Florine Strethheimer, which are her Maquettes of Costumes & Sets for Four Saints in Three Acts. I think it shows dogs whimsically dressed up as lions. I doubt this was ever intended to last, so its survival from the 1930s seems miraculous.

I learned a lot about the Steins, but I am still more interested in the art itself, & the sprawling exhibition did not help me understand the paintings better. Before visiting the show, I started reading SFMike's useful biographical background on the family, but I may have to go back after part 3 (& maybe 4?) comes out.

§ The Steins Collect
Matisse, Picasso, And The Parisian Avant-Garde

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
May 21 - September 06, 2011


Civic Center said...

Thanks for the links, and I'm afraid the series may get up to part 5 or 6 before I'm finished. Still to come are the 1920s Lost Generation, "Four Saints in Three Acts," lesbian love, and dodging Nazis in World War Two.

Axel Feldheim said...

You'll be able to write your own book about Gertrude & company after your extensive immersion in the subject!