I was last week at the exhibition in Le Grand Palais in Paris:
Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso... The Stein family’s adventure in artSorry, it just ended and was an interesting exhibition showing the many works that the Stein family collected.
A few things I took away from that exhibition:
The importance to support and engage with young artists
Unique was the way that Leo Stein and later Gertrude (his youngest sister) engaged with painters, giving them assignments and buying their work. At the start of an artists career it is important to be valued and recognised. And supporting at that time did not come at a great cost. Later when some of the artists became renowned and their painting much more expensive it seemed that the Steins would focus on others. This confirms me in the idea that I should myself support and engage with some younger artists; be in touch with their ideas and financially support them, and at the same time build a collection of art works that I really like.
The power of Cezannes apples
It is interesting to see the power of Cezannes painting of apples (sorry, I could not find a picture of that painting). The apples dazzle, combine vivid strokes of different colors and are really impressive. Like a Van Gogh painting with apples (in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) I can look for hours admiring how someone can come to such an 'odd' way of painting an apple, and at the same time make you really see the apple, almost taste it.
The portrait of Gertrude Stein by Picasso
This is the image I included at the start of this article. Gertrude was drawn to Picasso, where her brother Leo more and more disagreed with his direction. Interesting is this portrait; it seems Picasso had many sessions studying for his painting of Gertrude, and at these occasions they would have vivid discussions about several topics. Picasso made the whole painting but at some point stopped the painting as he could not finish the part of her face. He was so much into Gertrude that he couldn't see the real shapes any more, and he gave up. It was only much later that (by heart) he finished the painting.
What I recognise from this is that - when you are seeing all details it is difficult to capture the whole. I have made portraits myself since I was 14 years old and have made so many. Sometimes it is much easier to paint people that you don't know, as you can easily 'take distance' and capture the key shapes and proportions.
Maybe this is also in life; with people that are close to you it is more difficult to observe how they are, what they mean to you and which dynamics occur, and it is also more difficult to take the right action, show the right behaviour or intervene in the right way. Maybe even most with your children.
So, when looking up close at the painting it is remarkable to see indeed that the painting of her face lays on top of the painting. And it is great to see how Picasso - when having more distance - was able to capture the personality of Gertrude, showing her as intelligent and determined.
To see the painting larger there is a nice site where you can zoom in by moving the cursor over the painting. Best is of course to go and see the original painting.
As a conclusion; I guess it is sometimes good to take a bit more distance from people that are close to you, and from there get a more clear view.