Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Acquires the Allan Stone Gallery Records

By the Archives

April 1, 2021

Photograph of Allen Stone with African Figures
Photograph of Allan Stone with African figures, circa 1979.
Photographer unknown. Allan Stone Gallery records, 1960–2019.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, announced today that it has received a major gift of records of the Allan Stone Gallery. The visionary connoisseur and dealer Allan Stone (1932–2006) founded his eponymous gallery on December 7, 1960. These voluminous records date from the gallery’s inception on the Upper East Side through 2019, and include correspondence, price lists, invoices, annotated calendars, photographs, gallery publications, and news clippings. This collection is a significant addition to the Archives’ holdings of more than 200 gallery records documenting the American art market from the late-nineteenth century to the present day.

Perhaps best known for his eclectic approach, Stone presented groundbreaking exhibitions of pivotal artists. The gallery published dozens of exhibition catalogues featuring personal essays by the famed dealer. Notedly outspoken against purchasing art as an investment, Stone was a prolific collector, but only ever purchased works that he loved. The Allan Stone Gallery records recount his early advocacy of John Chamberlain, Joseph Cornell, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning, among others, as well as tribal, folk and decorative arts. Considered a legendary dealer of late twentieth-century art, Stone was one of the foremost experts on Abstract Expressionism.

“It is a privilege and an honor to preserve the legacy of Allan Stone and more than half a century of the gallery’s extraordinary exhibition and sales history. We are grateful to Allan Stone’s six daughters: Allison Stabile, Jeremy Stone, Claudia Stone, Heather Stone, Jessie Stone, and Olympia Stone for this generous gift and their meticulous efforts to transfer these treasured materials during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Liza Kirwin, interim director, Archives of American Art.

In the summer of 1961, Stone met Wayne Thiebaud and the gallery presented the artist’s New York debut in 1962. The Allan Stone Gallery records include correspondence documenting Thiebaud’s forty-year relationship with Stone, who was his first New York dealer. Stone also promoted and collected the work of a younger generation of artists, including Robert Arneson, Jack Whitten, Robert Mallary, Lorraine Shemesh, Sue Miller, James Havard, and Robert Baribeau, among many others. The collection also includes substantive correspondence and transactions with Robert Arneson, Joseph Cornell, Richard Estes, Elizabeth King, Alfred Leslie, Richard Minsky, and Jack Whitten.

Holding extensive materials on the market for New York painting and sculpture between 1940 and 1970, the Archives of American Art provides the richest context in which to study Stone’s life and work as a champion of artists and a collector, alongside the papers of the artists he exhibited and admired and the records of contemporaneous galleries. Joining the more than 30 million items spanning more than 200 years of American art history, the collection will be preserved alongside those of Leo Castelli Gallery, André Emmerich Gallery, Betty Parsons Gallery, Tanager Gallery, Park Place Gallery, Allan Frumkin Gallery, OK Harris, Andrea Rosen Gallery, and numerous other historic gallery records held by the Archives.

About Allan Stone (1932–2006)

Born in Manhattan in 1932, Stone attended Phillips Academy Andover and Harvard before earning his law degree from Boston University. Known for his expansive personality, booming voice, and celebrated eclectic approach, Stone was an advocate for artists and his gallery was a deeply personal space imbued with its own character. He was an expert on the work of Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Barnett Newman, and Franz Kline as well as their contemporaries John Graham and Joseph Cornell. In addition to modern masterworks and contemporary art, the Allan Stone collection’s extensive and varied holdings included tribal and folk art, Americana, decorative arts, and industrial design.

About the Archives of American Art

Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than 200 years of the nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its two research centers, exhibitions, and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives also makes nearly three million images freely available online. The oral history collection includes more than 2,400 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world. Visit the Archives’ website at www.aaa.si.edu

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