A Very Difficult Author

Gertrude Stein in Pieces

by Richard Bridgman
Oxford, 410 pp., $12.50

Four Americans in Paris: The Collections of Gertrude Stein and Her Family

a catalog with seven essays and two word-portraits
Museum of Modern Art, 173 pp., $7.95 (paper)

Gertrude Stein on Picasso

edited by Edward Burns
Liveright, 122 pp., $17.50

Gertrude Stein and the Present

by Allegra Stewart
Harvard, 223 pp., $4.95

Gertrude Stein Talking: A Trans-Atlantic Interview

by Robert Bartlett Haas
Uclan Review

The Third Rose: Gertrude Stein and Her World

by John Malcolm Brinnin
Little, Brown, 427 pp., $6.00 (republished in 1968 by Peter Smith, $7.50)

Gertrude Stein: Her Life and Work

by Elizabeth Sprigge
Harper, 277 pp., $5.00

Gertrude Stein: A Biography of Her Work

by Donald Sutherland
Yale, 218 pp., $3.75

This has been a Gertrude Stein winter, beginning with the exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art called Four Americans in Paris and a nationally broadcast television show entitled When This You See Remember Me, going on to three sizable books that include studies of her work, with at least one more yet to come, and probably two.

The TV show, produced by Perry Miller Adato for National Educational Television and the British Broadcasting Corporation, is a ninety minute affair still visible occasionally at the Museum of Modern Art, where it turned away long lines for several weeks. Indeed, so widely popular has it been, and so generally admired by professionals, that it will probably be made available later for distribution in schools and colleges. For the piece does give information and has charm.

Its species is that of the homage to an artist no longer living, a genre less common to our television than to the French, where I remember from ten years back a fine tribute to the poet Max Jacob. The evocation was done through still photographs of the subject at various ages, cinematic takes of still-surviving spots where he lived, and interviews with persons who had known him well, the whole held together and made into a composition by means of a spoken text.

The views of Miss Stein’s chief Paris addresses and of the country house at Bilignin, plus interviews with the sculptor Jacques Lipschitz, the poet Georges Hugnet, and “Jenny” Bradley, widow of Miss Stein’s literary agent, conversations between Janet Flanner and the painter Maurice Grosser and myself on the terrace at Bilignin, plus bits of Melanctha acted out on camera and of Four Saints in Three Acts played and sung, all give a certain amplitude to the present show. In Stein’s case, moreover, the sound of her own voice reading and some footage of her playing actively with a dog (Basket II) enable the tape to present as remarkably vivid a person now dead these twenty-five years.

The exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art of twenty-eight pictures by Picasso and ten by Juan Gris, recently purchased by American collectors from the Gertrude Stein Estate, has been enlarged by others known to have belonged formerly to Gertrude, to her brother Leo, and to her brother Michael and his wife Sarah. Gertrude’s own pictures dominate the show, partly because the collections of Leo and of the Michael Steins, having been long since sold off, were not always easy to trace down or to borrow, and partly because so many of Gertrude’s were by Picasso.

Michael and Sarah during their lifetime owned far more Matisses than Gertrude ever owned Picassos. But Matisse in this show tends to be represented by a multitude of small sketches and drawings, and only a few of his larger paintings. Also, the Juan Gris pictures are not, I think, advantageously hung. In any case the Picassos do stand out, and we do know …

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Letters

Lesbianism Never? October 7, 1971

Tender Buttons July 1, 1971

It Was Sweeney June 3, 1971