Three Lives pp 360-379 | Cite as

Modernism and the Avant-Garde

  • Gertrude Stein
Part of the Bedford Cultural Editions book series (BCE)


When Cézanne wrote to his son Paul, with some surprise, that eight of his paintings were to be exhibited at the Salon d’Automme (1906) one sees the transition into modernism coming slyly — to the amazement of even its greatest artists, who were long used to being ignored. So it is with all aesthetic and literary “movements,” despite the fact that in retrospect critics like to pretend that everyone was on the same page and of the same opinion. Disagreements such as Henri Matisse experienced (literal fisticuffs) were more likely to be the tenor of incipient change. And change took years; indeed, some change is never fully achieved. Think of the controversy in our own lifetimes about the Cubist paintings of Picasso — the fact that many viewers appreciate his “blue period” paintings and refuse to see the genius in the stark angles and nonhuman lines and shapes of his work of a decade later.


Lemon Yellow Great Artist Armory Show Great Conception French Painter 
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© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrude Stein

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