Monday, July 4, 2011

The Steins Collect

Recently, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art received a loan from the Stein family (Gertrude Stein and two of her brothers).  The loan contains early works of modern masters like Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, etc.  Gertrude Stein and her brothers were living in France and traveled in the same circles as many authors, painters, and actors.  When the famous artists were fledgling, the Stein family began collecting their art.  The Steins displayed the work in their sitting rooms and often had other Ex Pats over for drinks and discussion.  Through these sessions and displays in other venues, the fledgling artists became well-known.

Neither Conery nor I are experts in the catalogs of the painters included in the show.  We've seen the most famous pieces, but this exhibit didn't contain those.  It was pretty cool to go into the museum without any expectations of seeing something particular.  

Tickets for a well-rounded day filled with art   :o)
It seems that the current trend in museums is to charge a base price, which includes viewing of the permanent collection.  If there is a special, current exhibit, entrance to that section is extra.  This is true at SFMoMA.  After adding up the cost for two to see The Steins Collect, we paid for a membership which allows the card holder and a guest to enter the museum for a year and see all the current exhibits.  They even have a special line for members to enter the gallery before the general admission.  Why wouldn't we want to do this?  SFMoMA gets great traveling exhibits, so this membership will get used a lot.

Our focus this time was just The Steins Collect exhibit.  We can see the rest of the collection some other time.  We paid the $5 per for the Steins Collect audio tour.  There was SOOOO much content available about the pieces and the artists.  It's totally the way to go if you are there to take your time and see everything.  

The rooms throughout the exhibit grouped the paintings not by artist but grouped by the time period the paintings lived with The Steins. Anchoring many of the rooms was my favorite part of the exhibit.  There  were wall size photo murals of the rooms in the Steins' homes showing you where those paintings spent some of their time.  Seeing Matisse's "Femme au chapeau (Woman in a Hat)" hanging under his "Girl with Green Eyes" next to Picasso's portrait "Gertrude Stein"on the walls of Gertrude Stein's sitting room broke the fourth wall for me.  I now looked at the paintings from a totally new point of view...from a chair in Gertrude's room...with its changing natural light.  The art was covering most of the wall space that wasn't already blocked by furniture of a mirror.  It must have been overwhelming to see all this paradigm-shifting artwork at one time. These Masters were the originators of completely new styles of paining. 

As we moved through the galleries, we were nearing the later part of the lives of the Steins.  At this point, the fledgling artists collected by The Steins many years ago were very popular.  The Steins could no longer afford the works of those artists.  Because The Steins were drawn to finding artists early in their careers, they started branching out and discovering new fledgling artists like Pavel Tchelitchew and Juan Gris.

It was very cool to see all that art that happened during one family's lifetime.  And it was even cooler to see how the patrons hung the art in their homes.

1 comment:

  1. You can get lost in a place like that,putting yourself back in that era.A fun trip.