A Family Affair: At the Met, ‘Steins’ Demonstrates Pleasures of Art Collecting

  • “It was like one of the best rooms in the finest museum except there was a big fireplace and it was warm and comfortable and they gave you good things to eat and tea and natural distilled liqueurs.” That is how Ernest Hemingway described the living room of the expat Americans Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo at 27, rue de Fleurus, in Paris, and it is only fitting that this room can now be experienced inside one of the world’s finest museums. The Steins have arrived at the Met in the form of the sprawling and fascinating exhibition “The Steins Collect,” where the siblings’ 460-square-foot living room has been meticulously reconstructed, revealing, through photographic projections, how their collection swelled, between 1904 and 1934, from a modest grouping of nine pieces to a tightly packed installation of dozens of dazzling paintings by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin and Cézanne. This living room salon, and the relationships it engendered, is at the heart of the show about the Steins, which comes to the Met after runs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (the Stein family was based in nearby Oakland) and Paris’s Grand Palais. It’s a show about the gratifications—aesthetic, intellectual, social—to be had from collecting contemporary art. Read More

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