The first thing I did upon my return to New York this weekend was to travel back to Paris in 1903. The Met's amazing exhibit The Steins Collect showcases room after room of early works by Matisse, Picasso, and their contemporaries gathered by the Stein family. Although the museum continually hypes Michael's wife Sarah's contributions, it dismisses Alice Toklas in a single sentence that refers to her only as Gertrude's "companion." However, the lesbian couple's famous salon at 27 Rue du Fleurus is brought wonderfully to life in a large "room" created by three enormous screens on which are projected photos creating a time-lapse effect of how the art was displayed during the decades they lived there.
Predictably, the Met erases all the gay influences in the show, but thankfully you still have Wanda Corn and Tirza Latimer's book from their groundbreaking exhibit Seeing Gertrude Stein which specificly emphasized the queer content of Gertrude and Alice's collections. Some of their gay friends - Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Carl Van Vechten, Virgil Thomson, Pavel Tchelitchew, George Platt Lynes, Francis Rose, Frederick Ashton, Kristians Tonny - are in the Met show, including film clips from the black opera Four Saints in Three Acts. Unlike the Corn-Latimer show, the Met's description doesn't mention that choreographer Ashton had sex with at least two of the company's male principals. Degaying aside, you'll still love the art, particularly the works from private collections that you've never seen in person.
If you make it to the Met by Sunday, you'll also see Renaissance Portraits. Or, through the glory of the web, you can look at all 147 works online.