The Steins Collect



Gertrude Stein was: a) the most influential literary figure of the 20th Century; b) the most influential figure in modern art of the 20th Century; c) the most famous out lesbian of the 20th Century; d) all of the above.


The correct answer is: d) all of the above. Along with her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife Sara, Gertrude Stein was among the first to recognize the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Through their friendship and patronage, the Steins helped spark an artistic revolution.


SFMOMA presents the landmark exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde (May 21 through September 6, 2011) featuring dozens of works by Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. Artworks on view include Matisse’s Blue Nude and Self-Portrait, and Picasso’s famous portrait Gertrude Stein (a poster of which may very well have adorned your college dorm room wall).


In addition to the exhibit, SFMOMA will present several lectures and events of great interest to lovers of art, literature and queer culture.


Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 p.m. will feature essayist, cultural critic, and poet Wayne Koestenbaum, author of The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire and Hotel Theory. He has made an unparalleled contribution to the writing of queer cultural history and SFMOMA has commissioned him to write a new piece related to The Steins Collect on the topic of painting and writing.

$10 general; $7 SFMOMA members, seniors, and students; does not include entry to The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde.


On Saturday, June 4, three events will be presented free and open to the public:


Living Room (11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

The Stein family’s Saturday salons in their Paris apartments were the crucible of avant-garde art and writing of the period. In keeping with the spirit of those informal gatherings, artists, writers, filmmakers and performers will share their personal recollections of Bay Area avant-garde histories.


Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans (11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Twenty-six Bay Area poets perform an all-day marathon reading of selections from Gertrude Stein’s epic novel, The Making of Americans. Composed during the years of the legendary Paris salons held by Stein and her siblings, this “history of a family’s progress” represents the beginning of Stein’s distinctive modernist style.


Queer Culture and Artists Circles (4:30 p.m.)

Tammy Rae Carland, Jonathan Katz, Wanda Corn, and Wayne Koestenbaum discuss how artistic circles form and transform visual and literary artistic practices, and the place of such circles in queer histories of modern and contemporary culture. This panel coincides with the program Living Room, which explores the function of the salon in supporting marginal or emerging ideas and practices. 


For more information on The Steins Collect and related events go here.


About The Author

Adam Sandel is a playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, journalist and film critic living in San Francisco, California. He's the film writer for dot429 Magazine and is the host of the internet radio show "Happy Hour" on

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