Matisse , Cezanne, Picasso, Derain and others...
Still under the spell of the images from the SFMOMA exhibition of collected paintings owned by Gertrude Stein, her brothers Leon, Michael, and Michael's wife Sarah, they enter my mind, shuffling and reshuffling themselves enlessly in my visual memory. How did Matisse find the endlessly amazing array of colors he used to express the sensations of place, light, and time, that he chose, filtering them through his mind, as seen above in the poster I've displayed? How was he daring enough to paint a portrait of Mme. Matisse with a green stripe down her nose, to be sneered at by the critics of the Salon shows and dubbed as work painted by "Fauves", the wild beasts? The fact that the camera was already being used to capture visions of reality certainly gave the artists the "right" to move away from exactitude, thus the thrust in art history to move away from academic styles of painting and to explore uncharted territory. That is a search that continues today. These modernists opened the door for all the modes of painting that we see evolving in the 21st Century. After Picasso conquered his early subjects, portraits, bullfights, his acomplished and moody rose and blue periods, he became a free agent, especially as his work and his personality gained public acceptance. And henceforth he created his own directions, never before attempted or even considered. He was flying high! He was breaking new ground with every painting he attempted. He became a magician, a conjurer of new tricks. Whatever he could imagine could then be painted, as there was no precedent for what he was doing, nothing to compare it to. And the public was entranced, as if he were waltzing across a tightrope, with no net to break his fall.
Then, isn't it astounding that in the early throes of these artists' careers , as well as in her own beginnings as a writer , that Gertrude and the others in the Stein Family, could see the potential in these new directions, embrace them, encourage them, purchase from them , and bring awareness to the public so early in the 20th Century. What an instinct for the NEW, the ORIGINAL, the GROUNDBREAKING, and the confidence to feel they were RIGHT in their judgement and appreciation, and that others needed to follow suit.