Yesterday my brother-in-law invited us to SF MOMA to see the special exhibit “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde.” For weeks I had been hearing my life drawing classmates singing its praises, so I was more than excited to go. The story is that Gertrude Stein and her siblings began collecting art almost as soon as they got to Paris around 1903. They were among the first to champion painters like Matisse and Picasso, back when their developing style was scorned by the art establishment, and their relationship fostered other social and creative connections (like Gertrude’s famous salons).
The “Steins Collect” exhibition winds through many galleries, each displaying art, photos, and other artifacts from various stages of the Steins’ lives. It felt very personal, which makes sense for a private collection, but it was also the way the show was set up. We’d see familiar and beautiful paintings on the walls of the gallery, and then another wall would be covered in an enormous, almost life-size, photo of those same paintings hanging up in Leo and Gertrude’s apartment. There were portraits of seemingly all the Steins, from probably a dozen of Gertrude to one of her nephew Allan (son of Michael and Sarah Stein). There were also scribbled and doodled letters and notes from the artists to the Steins. Best of all, we got to see how the artists’ work changed over time. It was free day at the museum so I had to elbow past people at every turn, but I’m glad I went and I might try to get over there again before the show closes in early September.
We spent nearly four hours at the museum, then had a quick dinner before I went to my weekly figure studio. After seeing all those powerful works close-up, I resolved to be even bolder in my paintings that evening. It didn’t quite happen — I seem at the moment to have a definite style, for better or worse — but I do like what I did. Don’t be so silly as to think I’m comparing my work to Matisse’s or Picasso’s, just because I’ve put them in the same post! I’m only putting them together to record what I experienced the day I made these sketches. Do my pictures strike you as any different from last week’s?
As always, click on images to see larger versions, or visit flickr to see all seven sketches from the evening.