Gertrude Stein was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector, known for hosting a Paris salon, where the leading figures of modernism in literature and art, such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson and Henri Matisse, would meet.
The gatherings in the Stein home “brought together confluences of talent and thinking that would help define modernism in literature and art”. Saturday evenings had been set as the fixed day and time for formal congregation so Stein could work at her writing uninterrupted by impromptu visitors.
Gertrude attributed the beginnings of the Saturday evening salons to Matisse, as people began visiting to see his paintings and those of Cézanne: “Matisse brought people, everybody brought somebody, and they came at any time and it began to be a nuisance, and it was in this way that Saturday evenings began.” While she’s known most notably for hosting the gatherings between some of the world’s most influential artists, she was an artist in her own right.
In 1933, Stein published a quasi-memoir of her Paris years, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, written in the voice of Alice B. Toklas, her life partner and an American-born member of the Parisian avant-garde. The book became a literary bestseller and vaulted Stein from the relative obscurity of the cult-literature scene into the limelight of mainstream attention. Two quotes from her works have become widely known: “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” and “there is no there there”.
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