This month marked the 75th anniversary of the death of Gertrude Stein. The self-proclaimed genius said she would transform English literature. But it's not writing that she's most remembered for. It's for shaping a new art movement during the years between World War I and World War II. She saw beauty in the paintings of artists including Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Juan Gris and the writing of Ernest Hemmingway, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others when few did. She called them the Lost Generation.
Stein did become known for her writing style - the use of repetition, which she called insistence, and changing what is emphasized in each iteration. Her style, like the painters she championed, was a disregard for traditional perspectives. But her only book to get attention, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, was written in a traditional style the public could understand.
In 1906, Picasso finished a portrait of Gertrude Stein. Over the years, she wrote many literary portraits - putting abstract art into a literary form. If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso was her second Picasso portrait. In 2003, two choreographers created a dance to go with the poem, read by Stein. I'm fascinated by the rhythm and can watch it over and over - my own love of repetition I guess. The performance above is half of the poem. You can listen to Gertrude Stein read the whole piece here.
Here's to being true to your voice and embracing your genius - self-proclaimed or otherwise.