|Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra by Henri Matisse|
This post coincides with David Scott Allen’s current post (5/26/12) on Cocoa & Lavender. Entitled “When A Brownie Isn’t A Brownie,” David writes about two desserts that may well have been served on Saturday evenings at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris in the early years of the last century.
|From Left: Leo, Allan, Gertrude, Theresa Ehrman (nanny), Sarah, and Michael|
exhibition in New York, which is about a family of rather eccentric American intellectuals who collected the paintings of artists in Paris in the early 1900s, artists who, little did they know, would come to dominate modern art across the globe.
|Left to Right: Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne|
Provence was the subject of many of their paintings, especially Paul Cézanne who was born in Aix-en-Provence and single-handedly made famous Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain overlooking his native Aix.
|Monte Dolack and his wife have followed the footsteps of these
artists in Provence on several trips to France, staying in our apartments.
To read more about their trips, see our Jan 2011 article here.
Henri Matisse fell in love with the Cote d’Azur, where he captured many domestic and coastline scenes in and around Nice. The Rosaire Chapel in nearby Vence, where Matisse devoted four years to the architectural design of the building and every decorative detail, including the fabulous stained glass windows, was the “fruit of [his] whole working life.” He considered it his masterpiece.
Pablo Picasso was connected to several places in Provence and eventually bought a chateau in Vauvenargues, near the birthplace of Cézanne whom he felt was the father of his artwork. The artists’ hectic lives in Paris were punctuated by frequent vacations in Provence and all chose to live out their final years in Provence. All are buried in Provence.
|Picasso’s Chateau de Vauvenargues where he is buried|
|The Matisse Museum in the 17th Century Villa des Arenes in Nice|
|Paris Exposition in 1900, the event that first drew Leo Stein to Paris|
Unlike other Americans who traveled to Gay Paris at the turn of the century, pockets lined with money and in search of art mainly as a source of investment that they quickly shipped home to their mansions, the Steins, although by no means impoverished, often had to pool their money to buy their art and it stayed with them in Paris. And with such limited funds, they were confined to artists who were just arriving on the Paris art scene.
|Self-Portrait Leo Stein 1906-1908. Leo studied art
at the Academie Julian and the Academie Matisse.
The Saturday Salons lasted until about 1910 when, as Gertrude put it, the artists were known and even had their own agents. Leo had moved out, Alice Toklas who would become Gertrude’s life-long lover had moved in, and Gertrude was intent on pursuing other interests, like writing. Sibling rivalry had clearly surfaced and tensions were mounting among the Steins—Leo and Gertrude, whose bond had started the project, were growing apart and eventually would go their separate ways over the direction of Picasso’s artwork (toward Cubism), supported by Gertrude and disdained by her brother, and over Gertrude’s lesbianism, about which Leo objected. Leo moved to Italy. The War led to the dismantling of some of the art collection. Later, 27 rue de Fleurus would be the scene of other gatherings, but never with the same vibrancy that characterized the early years of the 20th century. Some would say that the center of attention at the gatherings had shifted to Gertrude and her literary career, not nearly as captivating a subject as the controversial art the family had amassed.
Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso 1905-1906. Gertrude wrote in
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932) that she
posed upwards of 90 times for this portrait.
The current exhibition consists of nine separate galleries—brimming with captivating paintings as well as postcards, letters, telegrams, personal photographs and furniture from #27—that tell the story of the Stein’s early years in Paris. Multimedia presentations supplement the exhibition making it one of the most educational shows I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. There are some 60 paintings by Matisse, 40 paintings by Picasso, and at least a couple dozen by Cézanne among the paintings of many other now well–known artists. It may take you several hours to make your way through this vast collection.
|Multimedia presentation in the exhibit showing 27, rue de Fleurus in 1906|
Can you imagine that this wealth of modern art hung on the walls of two otherwise unremarkable apartments in Paris and that every Saturday for several years the avant-garde filled those apartments with conversation, debate, and intrigue? The mere thought is enough to take my breath away. No wonder Midnight in Paris is so captivating. No wonder Alice B. Toklas’s brownies are so mysterious.
|After my Saturdays at theSteins’|