As American expatriates in early 20th-century Paris, the Stein family—Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife Sarah—were among the first to recognize the talents of such avant-garde painters as Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne and Toulouse-Lautrec. Having moved to France from Oakland, California shortly after visiting the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, the family collected and aggressively promoted the work of these emerging artists, almost single-handedly creating markets for their art outside Paris. They also formed close friendships with the artists they championed, making countless introductions, vacationing regularly with Matisse and his family, and opening their art-filled apartments to the many art lovers who asked to see their collections.

Jointly organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, this exhibition reunites the Steins’ unparalleled collections, gathering approximately 200 iconic paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and illustrated books including some 40 works by Picasso and approximately 60 by Matisse. It also features works by Bonnard, Cézanne, Gris, Laurencin, Picabia, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vallotton and others.

Following its SFMOMA debut, The Steins Collect will travel to the Grand Palais in Paris (Oct 3, 2011 to Jan 16, 2012) and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Feb 21–Jun 3, 2012).

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 151 Third Street, San Francisco, (415) 357-4000. Open 10 am–5:45 pm, Thu till 8:45. Closed Wednesday. Admission $25

May 21-Sept 6, 2011

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