STEIN Leo and Gertrude
STEIN Leo ( 1872-1947) and Gertrude ( 1874-1946). American writers, brother and sister, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After completing their university studies, Leo and Gertrude Stein arrived in Paris about 1900 and settled themselves in a pavillon at 27 Rue de Fleurus, which shortly became the gathering place for an endless stream of poets, critics and other writers, as well as the leading avant-garde artists. The Steins early indicated a preference for the work of Matisse and Picasso, who were still relatively unknown. Over the years, Leo winnowed out his reflections on art in three volumes, ABC of Esthetics, Appreciation: Painting, Poetry and Prose and Journey into the Self. What he had to say about art can be distilled into a single proposition -- that an aesthetic accomplishment can be fully seized only if one has first learned to behold nature with the eyes of a painter. This contention, which he sustained with reasons of a highly personal character, enabled him to illuminate the basic impulse of in artist even when he did not altogether sympathize with it, and he did not, in fact, invariably cherish the most advanced men. His sister, on the other hand, never altered in her fidelity to Cubism and its exponents -- especially to Picasso and Juan Gris. Her most imposing work is a complex and original novel, The Making of Americans, and her impish libretto did much to ensure the fame of Virgil Thompson Four Saints in Three Acts. She particularly relished the work of Juan Gris, devoting to him several critiques, notably the one in Transition, in 1927. In 1933, in her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas she set forth with warmth and sharpness her account of her many contacts with artists and writers (some of whom subsequently had their complaints to make on her interpretation of history -- as did brother Leo). Her name will always be intimately associated with the Cubist adventure and the formation of avant-garde taste in America. As a writer. of course, she has long been accredited as a liberating agent, not only in the United States but also in France, which she did not desert -except for brief visits -- even during two world wars.
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