The Steins Collect at the Metropolitan Museum of Art demonstrates how Gertrude, Leo, Michael, and Sarah Stein promoted and supported some of the greatest artists of their time, including Matisse and Picasso. Though not fabulously wealthy (a far cry from the supercollectors of today), the Steins earned a crucial place in the history of modern art by befriending and collecting a group of challenging and (at the time) relatively unknown avant-garde artists.
Highlights are Matisse’s Woman with a Hat and Boy with a Butterfly Net along with Picasso’s Portrait of Gertrude Stein and Boy Leading a Horse from his rose period. The documentation includes photographs of the Steins in their Paris apartment with masterpieces hanging salon-style in the background and a video of Sarah and Michael’s Le Corbusier-designed home outside of Paris. Although Gertrude is the most well known of the Steins, the exhibition also shows the importance of Michael and Sarah as collectors and patrons. Unlike Gertrude, Michael and Sarah never donated their archives to an institution; Sarah even burned much of her correspondence with Matisse, one of her closest friends. Gertrude introduced Matisse to Picasso, but Sarah Stein helped bring Matisse’s work to the United States, where it would influence American artists like Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn.
The Steins Collect is open through June 3 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.