Thursday, April 12, 2012

À la belle étoile

In French class last week, we were discussing different ways to say "outside," as in to go outside. Florence, our teacher, mentioned that one could say à la belle étoile, literally, to the beautiful star. Sound poetic enough? It reminded me of a collage I had done, so today I took the collage à la belle étoile and photographed it in our beautiful Seward Park cherry tree.
I have a collection of vintage handkerchiefs, and I used one
for the dark blue background and one for the rose cocktail dress. 

A Woman of the 20's
Florine Stettheimer
The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, a show of art work collected by  Gertrude and Leo Stein, is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My favorite objects in the  exhibit are these tiny dolls by Florine Stettheimer dressed in the costumes she designed for the 1934 opera, Four Saints in Three Acts by Virgil Thomson with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. Miss Stettheimer's maquette for the stage design is also on view.

Here are four of Miss Stettheimer's dolls from the collection of Columbia University.
A scene from the production of Four Saints in Three Acts

If one travels north in Manhattan to 104th Street and 5th Avenue, one may visit the Museum of the City of New York and see a marvelous doll house by Florine and her sisters which is modelled after their own townhouse. Florine was born in 1871 and died in 1944. During her lifetime, she painted and wrote, but eschewed publicity. After her death, the Museum of Modern Art gave her a retrospective show.
Florine Stettheimer

Bergdorf Goodman has a little book department on the 8th floor run by Jane Stubbs which specializes in books on art, design and fashion. That's where I found this 1946 catalog for an exhibit of Miss Stettheimer's work.
The painting on the left is called "Heat," and was done in 1919. It depicts the artist and her sisters and their mother and commemorates the latter's birthday. The lethargy is palatable.

Florine and her sisters, Ettie and Carrie led a privileged life having been nicely provided for by their family's wealth. In addition to their New York townhouse, they had a country place as well.
"She and her two sisters, Miss Carrie and Miss Ettie, presided over a salon that had considerable to do with shaping the intellectual and artistic impulses of the period just past, although at the dinners and receptions which followed in quick succession in their house and in which hardy ideas were put into words which echoed sooner or later in other parts of the city, she seemed often a furtive guest rather than one of the genii loci which she undoubtedly was, for her demure presence invariably counted." Henry McBride
Family Portrait No. 2 1933. Left to right: the artist, her sister Ettie, her mother, and her sister Carrie.

Florine peopled her paintings with her family and famous artists and writers of the day.
"She did not have to go far in search of subject matter. She looked upon her sisters, her mother and herself as phenomena of surpassing interest (which they indeed were)." Henry McBride
Lake Placid, 1919. The artist's mother viewing the aquatic scene from the balcony; and the artist herself descending the steps. Right: the Marquis de Buenavista standing on a raft; Marie Sterner lying down and the artist's sisters Ettie and Carrie seated, the latter with a sunshade; and Elie Nadelman, half in the water. Left, Maurice Sterne paddling a canoe in which reclines Elizabeth Duncan. Right, swimming toward the raft: Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the artist's sister Ettie. In the launch: Professor E.R.A. Seligmann; and on the surfboard, his daughter, Hazel.
"The artist had not progressed far in this sequence of portraits and party-pictures when it became apparent that she had shaken off the conventional premier-coup of the pseudo-Sargents and had evolved a manner that was to do her for the rest of her painting days. It is not a manner that may be hit off in a word. It might be thought to disdain manner in that it is wilful, unconcerned with precedent and as unpredictable as the flight of a butterfly in a garden of flowers." Henry McBride
There are four beautiful Florine Stettheimer paintings in the collection of the Metropolitan,
 and I photographed them on my last visit.
 Cathedrals of Art, 1942
Cathedrals of 5th Avenue, 1931
 Cathedrals of Broadway, 1929
Cathedrals of Wall Street, 1939
Two of my collages. Is it any wonder that I love Miss Stettheimer's work?

If I had two daughters who were mine,
I'd name them Delphinium and Columbine.
À Bientôt until next time.


  1. Dear ,

    It is a wonderfull exhibition ;"The Steins Collect " and I wanted to tell you do not miss it.

    What a pleasure to see the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira .Beside Tchelitchew and Balthus .With Matisse ,Cezanne .

    And also the Preface Gertrude Stein wrote for his first exhibition in the Galerie Roquepine in Paris on 1945 .
    Where we can read Gertrude Stein writing Riba-Rovira "will go farther than Cezanne...will succeed in where Picasso failed...I am fascinated " by Riba-Rovira Gertrude Stein tells us .

    And you are you also fascinated indeed as Gertrude Stein ?

    But Gertrude Stein spoke also in this same document about Matisse and Juan Gris .And we learn Riba-Rovira went each week in Gertrude Stein's saloon rue Christine .
    With Edward Burns and Carl Van Vechten we can know Riba-Rovira did others portraits of Gertrude Stein .

    But we do not know where they are ;and you do you know perhaps ?

    With this wonderful portrait we do not forget it is the last time Gertrude Stein sat for an artist who is Riba-Rovira .

    This exhibition presents us a world success with this last painting portrait before she died .

    Both ,it is one of the last text where she gives her last art vision .As a light over that exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York .

    Coming from San Francisco "Seeing five stories" to Washington and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for our pleasure .

    And the must is to see for the first time in the same place portraits by Picasso, Picabia, Riba-Rovira, Tall-Coat, Valloton .

    You have the translate of Gertrude Stein's Riba-Rovira Preface on english Gertrude Stein's page on Wikipedia and in the catalog of this exhibition you can see in first place the mention of this portrait .And also other pictures Gertrude Stein bought him .

    And you have another place where you can see now Riba-Rovira's works it is an exhibition in Valencia in Spain "Homenage a Gertrude Stein" by Riba-Rovira in Galleria Muro ,if you like art ...


  2. your blog is an inspiration and I couldn't be happier that I've come across it (via advanced style)

    1. Welcome, Holiday Girl. Happy to have you reading Femme et Fleur.