0090 The Steins and the Hungarians

  • Gergely Barki (Author)
    Institute for Art History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest

Identifiers (Article)


The traveling exhibition entitled "The Steins Collect" (2011-12) again drew attention – and on this occasion in a manner perhaps more vivid than any exhibition to date – to the importance of the systematically canon-shaping work that took place in two tiny Parisian ateliers (one in the Rue de Fleurus, the other in the Rue de Madame) in terms of the new painterly movements that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. Leo, Gertrude, and Michael, three siblings from the Stein family, a family of Jewish origin from San Francisco, along with Michael's wife Sarah, not only built within the space of a few years the most important contemporary art collection in Paris, but through their lively salons came to be the most influential shapers and propagators of universal modernism, making their influence felt to this day on assessments of avant-garde art. In the course of preparations for the exhibition and the publication of the accompanying catalogue, both of which provide a comprehensive survey of the Steins' activity, light was cast on the family's Hungarian connections as well. Consequently, one painting by the Hungarian Vilmos Pelrott-Csaba was included at the American venues (San Francisco and New York) of the exhibition, and a presentation on the family's ties to Hungary was held at the scholarly conference organized in connection with the exhibition. Despite the fact that several essays have been published on this subject, the written sources have not been collected – neither those dealing with the large number of Hungarians present at the Steins' Saturday evening gatherings, nor those covering the Hungarian pupils at the Académie Matisse, which was closely aligned with the Steins. This essay is a revised version of the presentation held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, supplemented with additional source-material.


fauves, cubism, Hungarian modernism, Henri Matisse, Leo Stein, Gertrude Stein, Béla Czóbel, Róbert Berény