Two Stein books

(Not about language.)

Just arrived at my house: two big books on Gertrude Stein, accompanying this year’s Summer of Stein in San Francisco:

Corn, Wanda M. & Tirza True Latimer. 2011. Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories. Berkeley CA: Univ. of Calif. Press.

Bishop, Janet; Cécile Debray; & Rebecca Rabinow (eds.). 2011. The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde. New Haven CT: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Yale Univ. Press.

The obligatory reproduction of Picasso’s portrait of Stein:

From a June review by Holland Cotter in the NYT:

… The two remarkable Stein-related exhibitions, just a few blocks apart, try to restore some of that truth by approaching her from two angles: as an art patron in one case, and as a social personality in the other. Both shows seriously question Stein’s own solitary-genius account of herself in these roles.

Of the two “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is by far the more spectacular visually, but narrower in theme. [from San Francisco, the show has gone to the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, Paris, and then to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York]

… The exhibition called “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, focuses on the relationship of [Stein and Alice B. Toklas], and takes another step in dispelling the stand-alone-genius Stein myth by bringing Toklas fully into the picture. [from San Francisco, the show has moved to the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington]

Other events were scheduled this summer, notably a new production of Four Saints in Three Acts,

an opera by American composer Virgil Thomson with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. Written in 1927-8, it contains about 20 saints, and is in at least four acts. It was ground breaking for form, content, and its all-black cast, with singers directed by black choral director Eva Jessye and supported by her choir. (link)

From Renate Stendhal’s blog, about the opera in San Francisco:

Four Saints was supposed to be a highlight of the two landmark shows on Gertrude Stein … In a nine-week run the exhibitions  attracted over 400,000 visitors. (Only Chagall drew more people in the history of SFMOMA, I was told.) A whole flurry of lectures, classes, panels, performances marked the “Summer of Stein,” and the new production of Stein’s first operatic collaboration with American composer Virgil Thomson…, was eagerly awaited. (link)

Things didn’t turn out quite the way the creators intended. Apparently, Thomson’s estate objected to meddling with the original, so the new content was moved to a performance, “A Heavenly Act”, preceding (without a break) the opera proper, the whole thing constituting what was billed as a multi-media “installation”:

(Unfortunately, I missed all of this. But now I have the books.)

A final visual note, on Stein’s celebrated line “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, as interpreted by her friend, the tattoo artist and gay pornographer Sam Steward (a posting about Steward on this blog, here):

A rose tattoo, but not connected to Tennessee Williams in any way I can see.

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