School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents The Gertrude Stein Paradox, a roundtable discussion led by historian and SVA faculty member Michèle C. Cone about Gertrude Stein, patron of the arts and mercurial author and thinker. The panel discussion coincides with “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” the exhibition on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from February 21 – June 3, 2012. Dr. Cone will be joined in conversation by Mary Ann Caws, distinguished professor of English, French and comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Catharine Stimpson, University Professor and Dean Emerita of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University; and Barbara Will, professor of English at Dartmouth College.
“A hundred years ago, a young American expatriate named Gertrude Stein became a public figure in Paris, loved by some and mocked by others. To this day—she died in 1946—her writing, thinking and art collecting continue to stir passion and controversy,” remarks Dr. Cone. “The panel will confront some of the most difficult questions about Stein: An intellectual and a student of William James in her youth, why did she love popular literature so, including detective stories? A modernist whose friends Picasso and Max Jacob flirted with anarchism in the 1900s, why did she become, during the years of persecution of Jews and gays, a supporter of the Vichy regime?”
Each panelist will weigh in on a particular aspect of what Dr. Cone calls the “Stein Paradox.” Michèle Cone will introduce the “Stein Paradox” by contrasting the collector’s early taste for Picasso and Gris with her later interest in the kitsch Picabia and the neo-Romantic stage designers of the 20s and 30s. Mary Ann Caws will address the modernist Gertrude Stein and discuss Stein’s writings on Picasso and Gris. Catharine Stimpson will confront the mystery surrounding Stein’s love of detective stories and Barbara Will will discuss the difficult and complex problem of Stein’s attraction to—and work on behalf of—the Vichy regime during WWII.