Steinian Influences and Associates

Pablo Picasso

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1905–1906

Stein and Picasso met in Paris circa 1905 in a restaurant over dinner. They quickly became good friends and over the Winter of 1905 spent countless hours with each other. Despite the rumors, Stein and Picasso were never romantically involved. Stein was merely Picasso’s muse. According to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) website, “In her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932), Stein described the making of this picture: “Picasso had never had anybody pose for him since he was sixteen years old. He was then twenty-four and Gertrude had never thought of having her portrait painted, and they do not know either of them how it came about. Anyway, it did, and she posed for this portrait ninety times. There was a large broken armchair where Gertrude Stein posed. There was a couch where everybody sat and slept. There was a little kitchen chair where Picasso sat to paint. There was a large easel and there were many canvases. She took her pose, Picasso sat very tight in his chair and very close to his canvas and on a very small palette, which was of a brown gray color, mixed some more brown gray and the painting began. All of a sudden one day Picasso painted out the whole head. I can’t see you anymore when I look, he said irritably, and so the picture was left like that.”

In a response to Picasso’s portrait of her, Stein wrote her poem, If I Had Told Him a Completed Portrait of Picasso
almost two decades later.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway along with other writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and John Steinbeck were influenced by the work and ‘avant-gardiste’ writings of Gertrude Stein. These artists were known as the “lost generation,” a phrase that Hemingway himself coined.

Stein was very influential on Hemingway work in the beginning stages of their friendship. She acted as a literary mentor and at one point Hemingway described he and Stein’s relationship as them being, “…just like brothers.” However, Hemingway was intolerant of Stein’s homosexuality and Stein knew that Hemingway’s party lifestyle was self destructive. Eventually they drifted apart so much so that Stein portrayed Hemingway in a negative light in her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. This started a long feud between the two authors that was never resolved.

Salvador Dalí

While there is no record of Stein and Dali officially meeting, they most likely met in passing at a art show in Paris. Just like Stein, Picasso, and other lost generation artists he fought against the traditional forms of art. Dali’s work embodies the physical and visual ideas of Stein’s modernist literature.