Stable Gallery records, 1916-1999, bulk, 1953-1970

A Finding Aid to the Stable Gallery Records, 1916-1999 , bulk 1953-1970, in the Archives of American Art, by Catherine S. Gaines

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Table of Contents:

Historical Information

Established in 1953 by Eleanor Ward (1911-1984), the Stable Gallery derived its name from its first home, a former livery stable on Seventh Avenue at West 58th Street, New York City. Long interested in art and recognized for her "good taste" and "flair," Mrs. Ward had vaguely considered the idea of opening her own gallery for some time and received encouragement from Christian Dior with whom she had worked in Paris. In 1952, opportunity arose to lease a suitable building that would later become a gallery. At first, Ward and a friend sold mannequins and made the large, empty space available for fashion photography; in December, she operated a Christmas boutique for a few weeks.

Stable Gallery opened in 1953 with an exhibition of work by Ward's friend Mike Mishke, a commercial artist. She then arranged for Stable Gallery to host a sequel to the 1951 Ninth Street Show (the initial show, organized by the Club with financial assistance from Leo Castelli, was held in an empty store on Ninth Street). The New York Artists Annual, better known as the Stable Annual, was selected by the artists themselves; this well-attended, widely-reviewed, and influential exhibition continued until 1957. Participating artists included Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem deKooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Stankiewicz, and Jack Tworkov.

Stable Gallery soon became a gathering place for artists, including some not in Stable's "stable". Over the years, Stable Gallery presented the first one-man shows of Robert Indiana, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. Among the artists closely associated with the gallery were: Joseph Cornell, Edward Dugmore, John Ferren, Alex Katz, Conrad Marca-Relli, Marisol, Joan Mitchell, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Stankiewicz, Cy Twombly, Jack Tworkov, and Wilfred Zogbaum. The gallery was known for dramatic, somewhat theatrical installations, and occasionally presented exhibitions beyond its usual focus (photographs by Hans Namuth and pre-Columbian sculpture, which personally interested Ward.)

When the block where Stable Gallery stood was razed in 1960 to make way for a high rise apartment building, Mrs. Ward moved her gallery to 33 East 74th Street, where she was able to maintain an apartment for herself upstairs. Quite abruptly, Ward closed Stable Gallery in 1970, noting changes in the art scene, growing commercialization, and a loss of enthusiasm that made the gallery merely a business for her. Alan Groh (1923-1996), who started as Eleanor Ward's assistant in 1956 and was eventually named gallery director, became director of A. M. Sachs Gallery. Mrs. Ward traveled widely and acted as an art consultant to selected clients.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Stable Gallery records measure 2.8 linear feet and are dated 1916-1999 (bulk 1953-1970). Items created earlier than Stable Gallery's establishment or after its closing are printed matter and personal papers of Eleanor Ward.

The Stable Gallery records consist mainly of artist files (Series 1) that contain biographical notes, correspondence, price lists, printed matter, and photographs of art work and artists. The correspondence includes memoranda regarding payments to artists and sales information; among the printed matter is documentation of Stable Gallery and other exhibitions, reviews, and miscellaneous articles. Although the collection contains a small amount of general administrative and financial records (Series 2) and printed matter (Series 3), most Stable Gallery administrative and financial information, as well as related printed matter is included with the artist files. Unfortunately, no records about the famous Stable Annuals held between 1953 and 1957 survive.

Among the miscellaneous items (Series 4) are a small number of Eleanor Ward's personal papers and records concerning her estate. Also included are an audio tape of Ward reminiscing about the Stable Gallery, circa 1970; a transcript of the oral history interview conducted for the Archives of American Art in 1972; a history of Stable Gallery with personal reminiscences written in 1971 by Alan Groh, Ward's assistant from 1956-1970; a videotape of the 1973 Sotheby Parke Bernet auction of selections from the Robert C. Scull collection; and 4 sketch books/pads and loose sheets with charcoal drawings by unidentified artist(s). Photographs (Series 5) are of art work and exhibition installations; Eleanor Ward, friends and family, and numerous parties; and the interior and exterior of Ward's Connecticut house.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as six series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms.


  • Anderson, Jeremy, 1921-
  • Borgrave, Elie
  • Briggs, Ernest, 1923
  • Brooks, James, 1906-
  • Brustlein, Daniel, 1904-
  • Bultman, Fritz, 1919-1985
  • Burlin, Paul, 1886-1969
  • Burri, Alberto, 1915-
  • Carone, Nicholas, 1917-
  • Cavallon, Giorgio, 1904-
  • Cornell, Joseph
  • De Kooning, Elaine
  • De Kooning, Willem, 1904-
  • Dugmore, Edward, 1915-
  • Ernesto
  • Ferren, John, 1905-1970
  • Fiore, Joseph A., 1925-
  • Goodnough, Robert, 1917-
  • Indiana, Robert, 1928-
  • Katz, Alex, 1927-
  • Krasner, Lee, 1908-
  • Marca-Relli, Conrad, 1913-
  • Marisol, 1930-
  • Mitchell, Fred, 1923-
  • Mitchell, Joan, 1926-
  • Morris, Kyle
  • Motherwell, Robert
  • Nesbitt, Lowell, 1933-
  • Noguchi, Isamu, 1904-
  • Ortman, George, 1926-
  • Reynal, Jeanne, 1903-
  • Stankiewicz, Richard, 1922-
  • Twombly, Cy, 1928-
  • Tworkov, Jack
  • Zarnatu, Henrique
  • Zogbaum, Wilfrid, 1915-1965
  • Ward, Eleanor, 1912-1984
  • Scull, Robert, 1917-1986 -- Art collections


  • Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Exhibitions
  • Art galleries, Commercial -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Art, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Artists -- United States

Types of Materials:

  • Sound recordings
  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks


  • Groh, Alan, 1923-1996
  • Ward, Eleanor, 1912-1984


The Stable Gallery records were the gift of the Estate of Eleanor Ward. In 1984, artist files were received from Alan Groh, executor of Ward's estate and her assistant at the Stable Gallery. Additional records were donated in 1997 by Buzz Miller on behalf of the Estate of Eleanor Ward; Mr. Miller was Alan Groh's partner and executor of his estate. A final addition was received in 1999 from Paul Gardner, executor of the Estate of Buzz Miller.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2002.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.

Ownership & Literary Rights

Stable Gallery records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Available Formats

The collection is available on microfilm reels 5821-5823. The microfilm is available for interlibrary loan.

How to Cite this Collection

Stable Gallery records, 1916-1999, bulk 1953-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Artist Files, 1953-1997, undated
(Boxes 1-2; 1.75 linear feet; Reels 5821-5823)

Artist files contain various combinations of biographical notes, correspondence (including memoranda regarding payments to artists and sales information), price lists, printed matter, and photographs of art work. Other types of records, photographs of artists and other subjects, and negatives are noted in the folder listing. There are no files for some artists (e.g. Louise Bourgeois, Hans Namuth, Robert Rauschenberg, Jon Schueler) who are known to have exhibited with the gallery. A few of the artists for whom files exist may not have been associated with the Stable Gallery, but perhaps were of interest as potential gallery artists or for Ward's private collection. In a small number of instances, material post-dating the closing of Stable Gallery has been added.

Box Reel
1 5821 Anderson, Jeremy R., 1954-1957
1 5821 Biala, Janice, 1970, undated
1 5821 Birmelin, Robert, 1963-1967, undated
1 5821 Boghosian, Varujan, 1963-1965, undated
1 5821 Borgrave, Elie, 1955-1960, undated
1 5821 Briggs, Ernest, 1955-1960
1 5821 Brooks, James, 1957, undated
1 5821 Brustlein, Daniel, 1962, undated
1 5821 Bultman, Fritz, 1954-1958, undated
1 5821 Burlin, Paul, undated
1 5821 Burri, Alberto, 1953-1957, undated
1 5821 Cage, John, 1958
1 5821 Carone, Nicholas, undated
1 5821 Cavallon, Giorgio, 1954-1960, undated
1 5821 Chase, Janet, undated
1 5821 Cornell, Joseph, 1954-1968, undated
1 5821 Cox, Jan, undated
1 5821 de Kooning, Elaine, 1955-1956, undated
1 5821 Diebenkorn, Richard, undated
1 5821 Downing, Thomas, 1963-1965, undated
1 5821 Dugmore, Edward (includes photograph of the artist), 1953-1958, undated
1 5821 Escobar, Marisol (See: Marisol)
1 5821 Engman, Robert, 1960-1963, undated
1 5821 Ernesto (includes photograph of the artist), 1957
1 5821 Ferren, John (includes photograph of the artist), 1954-1959, undated
(2 folders)
1 5821 Fiore, Joe, 1954-1956
1 5821 Garrigues, Ron, 1963-1964
1 5821 Goodnough, Robert (includes photograph of the artist), undated
1 5821 Graham, John D., 1961
1 5821 Heller, Dorothy, undated
1 5821 Hyde, Solomon, undated
1 5821-5822 Indiana, Robert (includes writings and notes), 1962-1968, undated
(8 folders)
1 5822 Insley, Robert, 1968, undated
1 5822 Katz, Alex (includes photograph of the artist), 1960-1962, undated
(2 folders)
1 5822 Krasner, Lee, undated
1 5822 Loew, Michael, undated
1 5822 Marca-Relli, Conrad, 1954-1959, undated
(2 folders)
Box Reel
2 5822 Marisol, 1961-1965, undated
2 5822 Mitchell, Fred, 1955-1957, undated
2 5822 Mitchell, Joan (includes photograph of the artist), 1954-1967, undated
(6 folders)
2 5822-5823 Morris, Kyle, 1956-1958, undated
2 5823 Motherwell, Robert, 1955, undated
2 5823 Nesbitt, Lowell, 1967, 1970, undated
2 5823 Noguchi, Isamu, 1954-1961, undated
2 5823 Opper, John, 1961, undated
2 5823 Ortman, George, 1957-1961, undated
2 5823 Pace, Stephen, undated
2 5823 Plate, Walter, 1956-1959, undated
2 5823 Reynal, Jeanne (includes photographs of Jain temple, the artist, and exhibition installation), 1956-1957, undated
2 5823 Sihvonen, Oli, 1963-1964
2 5823 Stankiewicz, Richard, 1959-1969, 1982, undated
2 5823 Thek, Paul, 1970, 1990, undated
2 5823 Twombly, Cy (includes photograph of the artist), 1953-1958, undated
2 5823 Tworkov, Jack, 1957-1961, undated
2 5823 Warhol, Andy, 1962-1997, undated
2 5823 Welliver, Neil, 1962-1964, undated
2 5823 Zakanych (a.k.a. Zakanitch), Robert, 1968, undated
2 5823 Zanartu, Henrique, 1954-1955
2 5823 Zogbaum, Wilfred, 1957-1961, undated

Series 2: Administrative and Financial Records, 1956-1970, undated
(Box 2; 3 folders; Reel 5823)

This series consists of miscellaneous administrative correspondence and financial records of a general nature, or ones concerning multiple artists. Financial material includes banking and investment records, miscellaneous sales, and invoices. Correspondence, sales information, and summaries of payments relating to specific artists are included with Series 1: Artist Files.

Box Reel
2 5823 Financial Records (banking, investments, miscellaneous sales, and invoices), 1956-1971, undated
2 5823 Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1961-1970
2 5823 Miscellaneous Notes and Lists, undated

Series 3: Printed Matter, 1916-1999, undated
(Boxes 2-3; 0.25 linear feet; Reel 5823)

This series consists of miscellaneous books, exhibition catalogs, and clippings. Items specifically relating to Eleanor Ward and the Stable Gallery have been microfilmed. These include clippings about Eleanor Ward's New York apartment and her house in Connecticut. Also included are two exhibition catalogs, A Contemporary Collection of Painting and Sculpture Selected from the Collection of Eleanor Ward, Lyman Allen Museum, 1965, and In Honor of Alan Groh '49: The Buzz Miller Collection of American Art, Bayley Art Museum, University of Virginia, 1999 (the collection was acquired mainly from Stable Gallery and donated in honor of Alan Groh, Ward's close friend and long-time assistant). Printed matter relating to Stable Gallery - exhibition, announcements, invitations, reviews, and advertisements - is arranged by artist and included with Series 1: Artist Files.

Box Reel
2 5823 Books
(5 volumes, 2 inscribed; not microfilmed)
2 5823 Odette: A Fairy Tale for Weary People by Ronald Firbank, 1916
2 5823 Poésies by Paul Valéry, 1943
2 5823 Bruno Caruso by Leonard Sinisgalli (see Box 3), 1954
2 5823 Fishtiary, poems by Michael Braude, drawings by Ralph Carpentier, 1978
2 5823 The Bel Canto Pet, undated
2 5823 Clippings, 1958-1988, undated
(5 folders)
2 5823 Exhibition Catalogs (Not Stable Gallery), 1965-1999

Series 4: Art Work, undated
(Box 3; 0.3 linear feet, Reel 5823)

Unless otherwise noted, drawings by unidentified artist(s) are in charcoal.

Box Reel
3 (sol) 5823 Drawings, Vol. 1, 2, 3 (includes some loose drawings), undated
3 (sol) 5823 Drawings (loose sheets; includes a few ballpoint pen drawings), undated

Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1964-1986, undated
(Box 4; 0.5 linear feet, Reel 5823)

Box Reel
4 (hol) 5823 Audio/Video Materials (not microfilmed; includes audiocassette of Eleanor Ward reminiscing about Stable Gallery, circa 1970, and videotape of Scull collection auctioned at Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1973), 1973, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Transcript, Eleanor Ward interviewed by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art, Feb. 8, 1972
4 (hol) 5823 Stable Gallery History/Reminiscences by Alan Groh (with Groh's résumé), 1971
4 (hol) 5823 Eleanor Ward, Estate of (will, financial records, personal and art inventories), 1982-1986, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Eleanor Ward's Personal Papers, 1964-1983, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Correspondence (includes letters from Ad Reinhardt)
4 (hol) 5823 Financial records
4 (hol) 5823 "Barn House" floor plan
4 (hol) 5823 Ward's cigarette holder (not microfilmed)

Series 6: Photographs, 1955-1983, undated
(Box 4; 0.25 linear feet; Reel 5823)

Box Reel
4 (hol) 5823 Art Work
4 (hol) 5823 Pre-Columbian Sculpture from the Eleanor Ward Collection, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Still Life with Eleanor as Eleanor of France, drawing by Josef Levi (with photocopies of art historical references), circa 1980
4 (hol) 5823 Unidentified Paintings, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Unidentified Sculpture, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Exhibition Installations
4 (hol) 5823 Graham Foundation Exhibition at Stable Gallery, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Unidentified Exhibitions, undated
4 (hol) 5823 People
4 (hol) 5823 Eleanor Ward, 1955-1980, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Eleanor Ward with Others (with Christian Dior, Alan Groh, Buzz Miller, and unidentified), 1960s, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Family [?] (great nephew Toby Ferguson, and unidentified), 1967, 1979, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Alan Groh, Buzz Miller, and Unidentified, 1963, 1965, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Groups (mainly parties, some at Ward's home; few individuals are identified), 1983, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Places
4 (hol) 5823 Ward's Connecticut Summer House (exterior views), circa 1960
4 (hol) 5823 Ward's "Barn House," Exterior Views, 1973, 1976, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Ward's "Barn House," Interior views, 1980, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Unidentified Buildings (interior and exterior views), 1979, undated
4 (hol) 5823 Miscellaneous Subjects, 1965, 1971, undated