As American expatriates living in Paris, the writer Gertrude Stein, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife Sarah played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s vibrant cultural life during the early twentieth century. They hosted Saturday evening salons at which artists, writers, musicians, and collectors convened to discuss the latest developments. They actively promoted and collected emerging painters and sculptors, particularly their close friends Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. And along the way they developed unparalleled holdings in modernist work by such figures as Paul Cézanne, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Produced on the occasion of the first exhibition of the Steins’ collections in more than forty years, this richly illustrated volume includes nearly five hundred images and eleven essays by distinguished contributors. Their texts explore such themes as the Steins’ impact on art making and collecting practices in Europe and the United States; the intense sibling rivalries that developed around key artists and ideas; the roots of Leo’s aesthetic theories in the thought of William James and Bernard Berenson; Sarah and Michael’s role in founding the Académie Matisse; Gertrude’s complex relationship with Picasso and their artistic influence on each other; Le Corbusier’s radical villa design for the family; and much more.
The essays are complemented by a trove of archival photographs illustrating how the Steins displayed their artworks, a facsimile of Sarah Stein’s notebook of Matisse’s teachings, and an extensive chronology detailing the lives of the family members. The book also provides the most complete list to date of the artworks collected by the Steins. Together, these scholarly contributions not only illuminate the family’s prescience and innovative approach to patronage, they also trace how the Steins created a new international standard of taste for modern art.