Studies in Literature and Culture
Edited By Grzegorz Czemiel, Justyna Galant, Anna Kędra-Kardela, Aleksandra Kędzierska and Marta Komsta
Brushed off Words: On Artists’ Writings
← 240 | 241 →Edyta Frelik
In 1934, Gertrude Stein visited the U.S. to give a series of lectures. In one of them, titled “Pictures” and sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, she states:
It is natural that I should tell about pictures, that is, about paintings. Everybody must like something and I like seeing painted pictures. Once the Little Review had a questionnaire, it was for their farewell number, and they asked everybody whose work they had printed to answer a number of questions. One of the questions was, what do you feel about modern art. I answered, I like to look at it. That was my real answer because I do, I do like to look at it, that is at the picture part of modern art. The other parts of it interest me much less.(1975, 59)
It is very easy to miss the important point here even though Stein makes it explicit in the very first sentence of the lecture. What is really natural is not that, like everybody, she must like something, and so she likes seeing painted pictures, but rather that she should tell about it. Consciously or not, she lies when she says that it is “the picture part of modern art” that interests her the most and that “the other parts” interest her “much less.” What makes Stein a quintessential figure of Modernism is not that she understood the idea of the avant-garde so well, and was its most enthusiastic promoter, but that...
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