Last weekend, I visited San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for the special exhibition - The Steins Collect. The exhibit focused on "four American expatriates in bohemian Paris when the 20th century was young, the Steins — writer Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael's wife, Sarah — were among the first to recognize the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Through their friendship and patronage, they helped spark an artistic revolution. This landmark exhibition draws on collections around the world to reunite the Steins' unparalleled holdings of modern art, bringing together, for the first time in a generation, dozens of works by Matisse, Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. Artworks on view include Matisse's Blue Nude (Baltimore Museum of Art) and Self-Portrait (Statens Museum, Copenhagen), and Picasso's famous portrait Gertrude Stein (Metropolitan Museum of Art)." -- Source: SFMOMA.
The collection was quite astonishing - both for the depth and the breath of these four keen-eyed collectors. The most astonishing piece to me, was the "Boy Leading a Horse" by Pablo Picasso, which I saw last year in its permanent home, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City. It was one of the most hauntingly beautiful paintings in the art history.
Boy Leading a Horse, 1905-06, Pablo Picasso, NYMOMA
Boy Leading a Horse (details), 1905-06, Pablo Picasso, NYMOMA
Other favorite piece are mostly by Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse and Bonnard. The standouts are Cézanne's Large Bathers (c. 1998), Picasso's Lady with a Fan (1905), Gertrude Stein (1905-06), Strolling Player and Child (1905), and Matisse's Music (Sketch) (1907) below:
Music (Sketch), spring-summer 1907, Henri Matisse, NYMOMA
Matisse's The Sailor II (below, seen at NYMOMA) is not included in the exhibit but it resembled closely the included The Young Sailor I (1906). The program informed us that Matisse persuaded Michael and Sarah Stein to loan several paintings of his from their collection for an exhibit in Germany and those pieces were trapped there during World War I. In order to console his collectors, he made double portraits of Peter and Stein, now in SFMOMA's permanent collection.
The Sailor II, 1906, Henri Matisse, The Metropolitan Museum
Portrait of Sarah Stein (Portrait de Sarah Stein), 1916
I particularly loved the portrait of Sarah, buttressed by her fantastic high collar, which reminded me another piece by Matisse, another piece I saw in New York MOMA last year:
Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg, 1914, Henri Matisse, , NYMOMA
The exhibit lasts from May 21 to September 06, 2011. The ticket price is not cheap - $25 for an adult, but it is a wonderful show and the Boy Leading a Horse, just by itself, was totally worth the price of admission. Besides, visitors can also view many wonderful permanent collections, including the rooftop sculpture garden:
Frau bei der Toilette mit roten und weissen Lilien (Woman at Her Toilette with Red and White Lilies), 1938, Max Beckmann
Vase of Anemones, 1918, Henri Matisse
Guardians of the Secret, 1943, Oil on canvas, Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956
The Structure of Light, 2008, Alyson Shotz