Bloomsbury Square

It does sometimes happen that I find a place without any difficulty. It was like that with 20, Bloomsbury Square. Actually, I hadn´t even looked for it. I´d made a note at some point that Gertrude Stein lived there when she was in London in 1902 before going to Paris. And since I quite often had things to do in the British Museum, Bloomsbury Square was just round the corner for me. So it´s not surprising that she would go every day to read in the British Museum´s famous library. Although the weather was awful – it was November, and didn´t really get light at all – I took photographs of the building at number 20, which unfortunately was completely hidden behind scaffolding at the time, while the gloomy, blackened façade was being cleaned. I photographed the façade and instantly dismissed the idea that came to me of photographing all the places where Gertrude Stein had lived. With “Caravaggio Viaggio” – I wanted to photograph all the places where paintings by Caravaggio hung – I hadn´t even got beyond the start in Rome, because I was constantly running into problems like: it´s too dark to take photographs in the churches, it´s forbidden to take photographs in the museums, a lot of paintings are away on loan or in the workshop being restored, and in Italy I´d have had to go as well to Messina, Syracuse, Florence, Milan, Cremona, Genoa, and then to Vienna, Berlin, Munich, St. Petersburg, Paris, Rouen, London, Madrid, New York, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Detroit, Washington. Though shortly after, I was in Valetta in Malta and had the opportunity to see and photograph the only signed Caravaggio. Which I did, but I saved myself the rest of the slog. It was more a problem for art historians: to photograph the Caravaggios in the places for which they were painted, and then the paintings that no longer had a permanent home, but hung in collections and museums. In the case of Gertrude Stein, so far, as chance would have it, I´d concentrated on the less important places, but very soon I would no longer be able to avoid the Paris of the Twenties and the famous Left Bank scene. I was just always running into Gertrude Stein.