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miss stein instructs

August 3, 2011

There is a Gertrude Stein vibe in the air around here. First the deYoung museum has a Picasso exhibit because the Picasso museum in Paris is undergoing a renovation, second, at the SF MoMA there is the Picasso and Matisse collection of the Steins on exhibit. Then at San Francisco’s Jewish contemporary Museum there is a Gertrude Stein exhibit. Not to mention the movie Midnight in Paris, which hearkens back to the Paris of the 20’s. I’ve been reading the above books about Stein and actually have read the Alice B. Toklas cookbook, which is on my kitchen shelf. Next up is the Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (by Gertrude Stein) and the Making of Americans. Reading excerpts from these two works has made me excited to read the entire books. The Making of Americans is very long and very unusual and will probably take the rest of the year, but oh well. It is about Stein’s family but actually about all of the western world. Stein was basically the mother of the beatnik movement and was a genius well ahead of her time. It is how she recognized the genius of Picasso and Matisse at a time when it was very unusual. When I read her writing, I can feel the rhythm and her love of words tumbling out purposefully on the pages. A contradiction and an intriguing woman.

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