The Cubist painter renounced the work of artists who drew only what society wanted to view as art. Instead of painting for the appraisers of conventional art, Cubist painters assembled shapes and movement from different angles to create a completely innovative artistic perspective. Like the Cubist artist, Gertrude Stein, a modernist writer of the 20th century, rejected the expectations of a society that required writing to model the speech of the English language just as it required art to model the visions and still life images of everyday situations and experiences.
Stein’s writing is often compared to the visual art of modernist painting, such as Duchamp’s work from the 1913 Armory Show, Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, in which he uses Cubist techniques. Duchamp and Stein rely heavily on illusion to move audiences from the constraints of conventional art to a modernist mindset of viewing art for what it is instead of a representation of something else. These two artists accomplish this idea through the speed and rhythm contained in each work, unlikely associations made between the elements of each piece, and the creation of multiplicity and simultaneity within each work.Order now
Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 maintains a constant speed through the illusion of movement. Duchamp used the technique of overlaying phases of the movement of a figure descending a staircase to create angles that do not present a still-life frame of a figure posed in one specific movement, but instead create a scene of constant movement that is not halted within the frame of the painting. Similarly, in Stein’s “Tender Buttons,” she creates a rhythm within the text by overlapping disconnected words and thoughts into separate sections.
This technique maintains a stable pace for the reader, although it never moves out of the present moment. Stein’s writing does not contain a past or a future; it maintains a tone and speed that do not move out of the present time. In the section entitled “A Waist,” Stein uses anaphora and begins each of three separate, disconnected thought patterns in the same manner: A star glide, a single franctic sullenness, a single financial grass greediness. Object that is in wood. Hold the pine, hold the dark, hold in the rush, make the bottom. A piece of crystal. A change, in a change that is remarkable there is no eason to say that there was a time.
A woolen object gilded. A country climb is the best disgrace, a couple of practices an of them in order is so left (1171). A pattern is maintained within this section that creates the rhythm between the separated thought patterns, but at the same time does not permit the reader to move out of the present, thus forcing the reader to continue moving through the section. The disconnected thought patterns within Stein’s work are created mainly by the construction of unlikely associations between the words within each phrase, and also between the sections and their corresponding headings.
Duchamp’s painting also uses unlikely associations between what is seen initially when glancing at his work, and what the disjointed shapes and angles are meant to represent according to the title of the painting. Stein and Duchamp both place labels on their pieces that initially implant an idea of what the viewer may be intended to see, such as the association between a nude anatomy and Duchamp’s abstract lines and planes and the association between one of Stein’s headings, such as “A Fire,” and the following phrases that lack any conventional association with the heading:
What was the use of a whole time to send and not send if there was to be the kind of thing that made that come in. A letter was nicely sent (1171). Stein’s passage lacks any obvious connection to a fire. However, readers may draw conclusions independently and associate the passage and the individual words within the passage to the idea of a fire either literally or figuratively. Stein’s intention, as with Duchamp’s, was to guide audiences to a level of independent thinking which would ultimately lead to the viewing of art as an autonomous interpretation, rather than a conventionally constructed representation of a familiar idea.
Finally, the work of each artist stands alone, provoking the interpretation of the individual through the incorporation of multiplicity and simultaneity. Duchamp includes a multitude of angles and shapes, in various overlapping forms, to create an illusion of an idea formed by each of the painting’s audiences. Those who view the painting are searching for the idea of a nude anatomy descending a staircase and ultimately form a picture of a standard nude anatomy and what a staircase should be perceived to look like in everyday life.
However, because Duchamp included a multitude of simultaneously occurring phases, color combinations, and angles in the painting, these mentally constructed images of what a staircase a nude anatomy should appear to be are not found within the painting. Only the idea of constant movement, and the combination of brown, white, yellow, and tan shading provide minimal support for the visual construction of a nude human and a perhaps a wooden staircase within the mind of the viewer.
In this way, Duchamp used multiplicity and simultaneity to provide a general base from which the viewer can then self-construct an appreciation for the painting as its own entity without any type of concrete representation of a specified scene or image. As with Duchamp’s inclusion of multiplicity and simultaneity within his work, Stein also uses these techniques in her writing to construct a work that provokes an individual thought process. Stein’s combination of disconnected words and inclusion of repetition provides the sense of simultaneity in her work.
In the various sections of “Tender Buttons,” Stein often uses repetition to emphasize that all of the separate written angles she constructs using extraneous vocabulary are all occurring in the present moment. Stein uses techniques such as anaphora and the repeated inclusion of the colors red, white, and grey to provide the reader with a simple base of consistency with which to further independently draw conclusions about her work, such as in the line “A dark grey, a very dark grey, a quite dark grey is monstrous ordinarily, it is so monstrous because there is no red in it (1168).
In this line found in a section entitled “A Red Hat,” the sentence does not provide a base out of which the reader can form a concrete conclusion, but rather creates a consistency using the simultaneous occurrence of repetition and colors that were mentioned in earlier sections. The reader can then mentally construct his/her own angles from the consistency in Stein’s passage. Similarly, Stein uses multiplicity to generate self-constructed ideas about the work from the reader.
The inclusion of numerous passages preceded by various headings to each passage that lack any significant connection to one another makes up the multiplicity in “Tender Buttons. ” Stein’s variety of vocabulary and structure within each separate passage also build the multiplicity of the poem. The vocabulary used throughout “Tender Buttons” is immensely vast and disjointed. The length of each of the numerous sections also tends to differ throughout the work. In the section entitled “Red Roses,” the passage is merely one sentence long.
However, the following passage is two sentences long, but each sentence is significantly longer than the sentence found in the previous section. Through the separation by differing headings, the difference in length of each passage, and the plentiful vocabulary used within “Tender Buttons,” Stein provides a starting point, just as Duchamp created a visual base, with which audiences can draw their own conclusions about Stein’s writing. Gertrude Stein artistically designed her literature to resemble the paintings of the Cubist movement.
The work of Cubist painters such as Marchel Duchamp is stylistically paralleled to Stein’s writing. The Cubist movement stressed the power of the individual mind to create an artistic image separate from the expectations society had for art. The work of Gertrude Stein, in the same way, aims to channel the reader into a self-directed interpretation of words in order to form a personalized image found in Stein’s art just as the Cubist artists used techniques to remove the mind of the viewer from social constraints.