Gertrude Stein. By 1906, Picasso was searching restlessly for new ways to depict form.

896! CHAPTER 29 Modernism in Europe, 1900 to 1945

Gertrude Stein. By 1906, Picasso was searching restlessly for new ways to depict form. He found clues in the ancient Iberian sculpture of his homeland, which prompted him to return to an un!nished portrait he had been preparing for Gertrude Stein  (fig.  29-11), his friend and patron (see “Gertrude and Leo Stein and the Avant-Garde,” above). Stein had posed for more than 80  sittings earlier in the year, but Picasso was still not satis!ed with the results. On resuming work, Picasso painted Stein’s head as a simpli!ed planar form, incorporating aspects derived from Iberian stone heads. Although the disparity between the style of the face and the rest of the !gure is striking, together they provide an insightful portrait of a forceful, con!dent woman. More important, Picasso had discovered a new approach to the representation of the human form.

Demoiselles d’Avignon. Later in 1907, Picasso carried his new approach to the representation of human form much further in his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (fig. 29-1). Although Picasso’s painting has a&nities with many European paintings of nude women, includ- ing Cézanne’s Large Bathers (fig. 28-24A) and Matisse’s Bonheur de Vivre (fig. 29-2A), and also includes a variation on an Archaic Greek kouros statue (fig. 5-9) for the standing woman at the le’, Demoiselles stands apart from the Western pictorial tradition. It also breaks sharply from the norm in the representation of nude women as threatening rather than as passive !gures on display for the pleasure of male view- ers. Picasso’s rethinking of the premises of Western art was largely inspired by his fascination with “primitive” art, which he had studied in Paris’s Trocadéro ethnography museum and collected and kept in his Paris studio (see “Primitivism and Colonialism,” page 897).


Gertrude and Leo Stein and the Avant-Garde One of the many unexpected developments in the history of art is that two Americans—Gertrude (1874–1946) and Leo (1872–1947) Stein— played pivotal roles in the history of the European avant-garde. The Steins provided a hospitable environment in their Paris home for artists, writers, musicians, collectors, and critics to socialize and discuss pro- gressive art and ideas. Born in Pennsylvania, the Stein siblings moved to 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris in 1903. Gertrude’s experimental writing stimulated her interest in the latest developments in the arts. Conversely, the avant-garde ideas discussed in her home influenced Gertrude’s unique poetry, plays, and other works. She is perhaps best known for The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), a unique memoir written in the persona of her lover and longtime companion.

The Steins’ interest in the exciting and invigorating debates tak- ing place in avant-garde circles led them to welcome visitors to their Saturday salons, which included lectures, thoughtful discussions, and spirited arguments. Often, these gatherings lasted until dawn and included not only their French friends but also visiting Americans, Brit- ons, Swedes, Germans, Hungarians, Spaniards, Poles, and Russians. Among the hundreds who visited the Steins were artists Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Mary Cassatt, Marcel Du champ, Alfred Stieglitz, and Arthur B. Davis; writers Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John dos Passos, Jean Cocteau, and Guillaume Apollinaire; art dealers Daniel Kahnweiler and Ambroise Vollard; crit- ics Roger Fry and Clive Bell; and collectors Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov.

The Steins were themselves avid art collectors, and the works they hung in their home attracted many visitors. One of the first paint- ings that Leo purchased was Matisse’s notorious Woman with the Hat (FIG. 29-2), and he subsequently bought many more by Matisse—includ- ing Le Bonheur de Vivre (FIG. 29-2A)—along with works by Gauguin, Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, and Braque. Sarah Stein and her husband, Michael, who was Leo and Gertrude’s older brother, were also major, if more focused, collectors. They acquired many works by Matisse and lent some of them to the 1913 Armory Show in New York, which intro- duced avant-garde European art to America (see “The Armory Show,” page 935).

Gertrude developed an especially close relationship with Picasso, who painted her portrait (FIG. 29-11) in 1907. Gertrude loved the paint- ing so much that she kept it by her all her life and bequeathed it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art only upon her death in 1946.

29-11 Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, 1906–1907. Oil on canvas, 39 3 380 × 29 80. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (bequest of Gertrude Stein, 1947).

Picasso had left this portrait of his friend and patron unfinished until he decided to incorporate the planar simplicity of ancient Iberian stone sculptures into his depiction of her face.

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