Published: November 4 Washington Post
I get it: Philip Kennicott loathes Gertrude Stein [“Gertrude Stein knew the right and wrong people,” Arts, Oct. 23]. While he has his reasons, I wish he had at least described the exhibition ”Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” before launching his diatribe. I viewed it at the National Portrait Gallery the day before I read his review, and I was disappointed by what he wrote.
The show seeks to tell us about Stein and her time in “5 stories”: Stein as the subject of portraiture; as art collector; in her domestic life; through friendships; and as defined by her legacy as writer, celebrity, mentor. I left the exhibition wanting to know more about this interesting but human woman, whose many shortcomings are noted throughout. Kennicott instead creates a sixth story, the “sins” of Stein.
One does not have to worship Stein, her work or her life to learn from the exhibition, and the review could have described more of the exhibition’s structure and the pieces instead of hammering on Stein, her work, her character, indeed her very being. Must he hit us over the head with the intensity of his disdain? Why does he not respect the readers enough to let them decide on the ultimate value of Gertrude Stein as cultural icon?
I encourage others to visit the National Portrait Gallery and judge the show for itself.
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