Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gertrude Stein - Creative Collaboration

Gertrude Stein - Creative Collaborations

Visiting The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco was on my list for a long time (WHY? Check the next post), so when my long time mentor and Jewish, jewelry teacher invited me to see the new exhibits in that museum, I grabbed the invite and marked the day in my Google calendar. I even offered to drive her and her another musician friend to the city. I was very excited to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum and Museum Of Modern Art, San Francisco. Again, MOMA, I religiously visit and when I don't, I feel guilty.

Creative Collaboration - I saw the exhibits at both the museums. I realized that the careful timing of curating exhibits on somewhat similar and related subjects in both the museums made the message and impact stronger. The Contemporary Jewish Museum collaborated with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and curated the exhibit on  "Seeing Gertrude Stein: five stories"at the same time as MOMA's  show on "The Steins Collect". The location of both the museums close enough to walking distance made it possible for visitors to see both exhibits and get the most out of it. The exhibit in MOMA is much larger as the building is larger than Jewish museum and so the exhibit also covers Villa Stein designed by Le Corbusier at Garches, France.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA
Museum Of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Mother of Modernism-
Gertrude was known as a mother of modernism. She played a big role in life of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway and so many other well known artists.
The exhibit and the docent tour by my friend at The Contemporary Jewish Museum allowed me to peep in the life of Gertrude. Amongst all the stories, "Art of Friendship" story caught my attention. Gertrude Stein and her brother had keen eye for art and collecting, but she did not stop there, she would attract budding artists and writers, she would continue dialogues with them. She created a community with them. She was born in USA but she made her home and family in France. From 1904 to 1913, her home at 27 Rue de Fleurus in France turned into  Salon. The exhibits in both museums show the walls of her home (see the photo below), which were vertically lined up with  paintings done by artists Renoir, C├ęzanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Many artists brought their friends to her place to see the paintings however Picasso and Matisse were part of her close social circle and went to her salon every early Saturday evenings.

This salon/her home was displayed in the exhibits became the place for enhancing friendships with all the artists. The wall paper on the wall, personalized objects, photographs and other furniture made the physical space intimate. The Jewish Museum has used  the wall paper(White Dove motif on light blue background paper), mimicking Gertrude's living room on one of the wall for people to experience.
Gertrude in her Home in France
The exhibits at both the places showed black and white photos of the walls of Gertrude's home where we can see the paintings. Then you walk around in the same room and see the beautiful, mouth dropping original master works. I almost could imagine Gertrude's space with those paintings. This definitely gave me the glimpses of their lives and I understand the power of paintings now financially, culturally and emotionally.

Villa Stein- Stein and Le Corbusier
While strolling at MOMA, I really was surprised to see Le Corbusier's work connected with the Stein Collect. Les Terrases (Villa Stein) at Garches is the largest and most luxurious house that Le Corbusier designed in the 1920s and the house was designed and built for Sarah, wife of Michael Stein, who was a brother of Gertrude and their longtime friend Gabrielle Colaco-Osorio de Monzie.  Michael Stein and Sarah hired Le Corbusier to design their modern Villa and it seems like, Corbu's career started to bloom after this Villa. I had no idea about the Stein family's involvement with modern movement in architecture. It also shows creative collaboration in that time.

Words + Voices- Gertrude Stein  wrote many books but that I can not comment as I have not read any of her writings. But it is amazing to find out that she appreciated and attracted even many of the great writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder and Sherwood Anderson. In the same context, the literary collaboration is happening just across both the museums in Yerba Buena Garden. An independent literary festival Words+ Voices, with outdoor series Litquake, is just scheduled in July. Many award winning poets are going to recite and discuss the poetry for public and thus paying tribute to Gertrude Stein.

I want to end this by Gertrude's two quotes, which I like-
"An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work."
"A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears."