Paris in the early-20th century was a hotbed of artistic and sexual experimentation. Even so, the expatriate American writer Gertrude Stein stood out as a gay Jewish woman whose art was as uncompromising and unconventional as her lifestyle. Stein’s book of prose poetry, “Tender Buttons,” comes to the stage this month in an epic production by the Van Reipen Collective that promises to shed new light on one of Stein’s most challenging and influential works. It starts this week in the East Village.
Gertrude Stein’s collaboration with the fascist Vichy government was never a secret. But, until now, many have simply ignored it; or, to use the critic Frederic Jameson’s phrase, given over to the “innocence of intellectuals.” Stein’s avid support for Petain, the Nazi collaborator who headed the Vichy government, has often been written off as merely the tragic consequence of many a brilliant artists. What mattered was her prose, not her politics.