While in New York for the UNICEF event, I will definitely be attending the Stein exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. People may be most familiar with Gertrude Stein for her contributions to art and poetry, but her entire family were passionate collectors of art, and their patronage of artists like Matisse and Picasso is what allows a collection like this to be displayed at the Met.
Gertrude Stein, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife Sarah were important patrons of modern art in Paris during the first decades of the twentieth century. This exhibition unites some two hundred works of art to demonstrate the significant impact the Steins’ patronage had on the artists of their day and the way in which the family disseminated a new standard of taste for modern art. The Steins’ Saturday evening salons introduced a generation of visitors to recent developments in art, particularly the work of their close friends Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, long before it was on view in museums.
Beginning with the art that Leo Stein collected when he arrived in Paris in 1903—including paintings and prints by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Édouard Manet, and Auguste Renoir—the exhibition traces the evolution of the Steins’ taste and examines the close relationships formed between individual members of the family and their artist friends. While focusing on works by Matisse and Picasso, the exhibition also includes paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Juan Gris, Marie Laurencin, Jacques Lipchitz, Henri Manguin, André Masson, Elie Nadelman, Francis Picabia, and others.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”
This statement of purpose has guided the Museum for more than a century.
The Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art have reaffirmed the statement of purpose and supplemented it with the following statement of mission:
The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.