Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3

Author, art collector and saloniste Gertrude Stein was born on February 3, 1874, near Pittsburgh to an upper-class family. She grew up in Oakland, Calif., and later Baltimore. In 1903 she and her brother Leo moved to the Left Bank of Paris, where she presided over a remarkable salon of artists and was referred to as “Le Stein.” By 1906, she and Leo had collected works by Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and many others. Her avant-garde writings are wildly idiosyncratic, marked by stream-of-consciousness and a use of words analogous to the Cubists’ multidimensional representation of abstract forms. Her best known work, the genre-busting The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), is actually a memoir of her Paris years reinvented as the autobiography of her lover, Alice, who later wrote an extraordinary cookbook. Pictured: Picasso’s renowned portrait of Stein (1906).

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