When people envision the life and times of Gertrude Stein, it is often in the context of 1920s Paris. Her home at 27 rue de Fleurus was a fabulously bohemian outpost, where she, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and writers, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, discussed the merits of art. It was the type of salon that makes writers, artists and historians swoon, “If only I were a fly on the wall.” Perhaps that is why Woody Allen transports his time-traveling character there in his latest film, Midnight in Paris. Gil, a modern-day Hollywood screenwriter portrayed by Owen Wilson, asks Stein (with Kathy Bates in the role) to read his fledgling novel.
The story of the writer’s “salon years” is a familiar one, after all. Stein popularized that interlude in her most successful book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. But it is entirely fresh stories, as relayed by Wanda M. Corn, a leading authority on Stein, that we encounter in the Stanford art historian’s “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories,” an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on view through January 22.
More here. (Note: I just read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and it is extremely good and extremely funny!)