Gertrude Stein statue

Bryant Park

The Gertrude Stein statue in Bryant Park is definitely one of the most unique statues in the city. It is unique because of its realist, almost unattractive design, and significant because of the fact that it is the first statue of an American woman to be installed in New York City.

The statue was installed in 1992 and based on a model of the author made by Jo Davidson in 1923.

Gertrude Stein was the one-of-a-kind author of plays, film scripts, essays, poetry, novels, and an autobiography. Her statue’s closeness to the New York Public Library is deliberately meant to reflect her literary contributions.

Stein had a number of very interesting literary accomplishments of interest to contemporary feminists, which are largely unknown despite her fame:

  • In 1934 she produced her opera “Four Saints in Three Acts,” in New York City, with music by Virgil Thomson. The show was a huge success and performed by an all-black cast, a remarkable accomplishment for the time.
  • Thomson later wrote music to accompany her posthumously published opera, “The Mother of Us All,” based on the life of Susan B. Anthony. It completely fascinates me that Stein was an admirer or Susan B. Anthony!
  • Stein was the author of one of the very first published “coming out stories,” Three Lives and QED, which she wrote in 1903. Stein understandably suppressed the work during her lifetime, and it was not published until the 1950s. The true story gives an account of Stein’s sexual exploration as a college student. I am still trying to get my hands on a copy!

Stein lived the majority of her adult life as a free-spirited ex-patriot in Europe (mostly France), but her personality and accomplishments endeared her to her homeland. The unique, if not unusual statue is just one of many well-known works of art based on her form, and one of ten copies.