Allan Barry Stone

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Allan Barry Stone
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Born(1932-02-06)February 6, 1932
Manhattan, New York
DiedDecember 15, 2006(2006-12-15) (aged 74)
Westchester County, New York
Cause of deathHeart failure
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma mater
  • Phillips Academy
  • Harvard University
  • Boston University
  • Art dealer
  • Collector
OrganizationAllan Stone Gallery
  • Marguerite Cullman
  • Clare Chester

Allan Barry Stone (1932- 2006) was an American art dealer, collector, and leading authority on Abstract Expressionism. In 1960, he founded the Allan Stone Gallery (later known as Allan Stone Projects) where he became renowned for his early advocacy of preeminent 20th-century artists. He discovered and championed artists such as John Chamberlain, Joseph Cornell, Willem de Kooning, Richard Estes, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Eva Hesse, Franz Kline, Yasuhide Kobashi, Wayne Thiebaud, and Jack Whitten. He was also known for his zealous and eclectic approach to art collecting, amassing a collection that spanned painting, sculpture, assemblage, collage, folk art, art nouveau, art deco, furniture, mechanical parts, signs, and cars. At the time of his death, he had the largest collection of African and Oceanic art in private hands.[1][2][3]

Early life and education

Allan Stone was born in Manhattan in 1932. His father was a lawyer and his mother was the daughter of Sam Klein, who was known for developing the concept of discount merchandising and founded the New York City-based discount dress store chain S. Klein on the Square. Stone attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Harvard University before, at his father’s urging, studying law at Boston University.[2]

Stone was interested in art from an early age. American cartoonist Gus Edsen was a family friend and his artistic talent fascinated Stone when he was a boy. Stone drew cartoons from an early age and painted during his time at Andover. He first saw artwork by Willem de Kooning at Addison Gallery during his time at Andover. While at Harvard, he took art appreciation courses and studied art during the summer.[4]

Following his graduation from Boston University, Stone practiced law at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. and then on Wall Street in New York City. However, he was unable to shake his passion for art. He spent much of his working day giving legal advice to artists for free or in exchange for their work. His clientele included Robert Mallary, John Chamberlain, and Elaine de Kooning,[5] the latter of whom was instrumental in convincing Stone to quit law and start his gallery. He had also begun collecting art in earnest. While studying at Boston University, Stone had met artist Robert S. Neuman and several of Neuman’s Barcelona paintings were among Stone’s first art purchases.[6]

His growing relationships with artists eventually drove him to quit law for good and open the Allan Stone Gallery. Reflecting on the decision, Stone remarked: “I couldn't say that I intellectually decided to go into it. I sort of got sucked into it, sort of the way a junkie gets sucked into a heroin parlor.”[6]

Allan stone gallery

In 1960, Stone founded the Allan Stone Gallery with the support and assistance of his first wife Maggy, and some friends. Upon learning of the venture, Stone’s father went “ballistic” and refused to offer him any support. Despite initial hardships, the gallery quickly became famous for showcasing artists that other galleries turned away, including Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Estes.[7] Stone met the latter at a party that Estes was bartending, going out of his way to introduce himself to the young artist when he was told Estes was too nervous to approach him. [2]

During the gallery’s first decade Stone showed established luminaries such as Willem de Kooning, Cesar, Franz Kline, John Chamberlain, Barnett Newman, and Alfred Leslie. Stone’s success exhibiting these sought-after artists allowed him to be a consistent proponent of young talent, with the gallery exhibiting some one-hundred and fifty emerging artists over the decades. He gave first or early shows to Arman, Robert Arneson, Estes, Dorothy Grebenack, Eva Hesse, Robert Ryman, Thiebaud, and Jack Whitten.[1][6]

His unflagging enthusiasm for young, unknown artists would define his career. When discussing his philosophy as a dealer, he remarked: “I’m not interested in brokering paintings. That’s like being in the stock business. The exciting part of this business is finding people and watching them develop.” The Allan Stone Gallery was one of the few that would see artists and their work without an appointment— a vital lifeline for the inexperienced and unconnected. It was also unconventional in its frequent showings of unknown woman artists and artists of color, such as Eva Hesse, Gerald Jackson, Jack Whitten, Elizabeth King, Sue Miller, Kazuko Miyamoto, Diana Moore, and Lorraine Shemesh. Other young artists that Stone championed include Mundy Hepburn, Richard Hickham, James Havard, David Beck, James Grashow, Dennis Clive, and Robert Baribeau.[2][8]

This eclectic mix of talent is exemplified by the impressive roster of contemporary American artists the gallery exhibited in the 1962 Contemporary American Art show at the New York Coliseum. Works by the foremost figures in American art, including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Robert Mallary, and Andy Warhol, hung alongside works by artists that were relatively unknown at the time such as George Deem, Thomas Downing, Stephen Durkee, Charles Ginnever, Hans Haake, John Kacere, Bernard Langlais, Robert S. Neuman, and Thiebaud.[9]

Stone’s strategy of featuring lesser-known artists alongside more established ones helped launch the careers of several artists.[10] His exhibition of a then-relatively unknown Joseph Cornell alongside de Kooning resulted in a surge of interest for Cornell.[11] He was also known for juxtaposing Western artists with the African tribal art he passionately collected. He exhibited Arshile Gorky and John Graham alongside power figures from the Congolese Songye and nail fetishes. Aside from rare instances such as these, his vast African and Oceanic art collection existed largely for his enjoyment and resided in his home.[3]

The Allan Stone Gallery was Allan Stone’s vision entirely. However, over the years, many of Stone’s six daughters were involved in the gallery and all of them inherited his passion for art and collecting.[1]

Legacy and impact

Stone’s eye for young artists’ potential had a substantial impact on the landscape of 20th-century art. He is often celebrated as being “ahead of the curve” in his vision, and for his willingness to share that vision and knowledge with artists he believed in. His reputation as a tastemaker, along with his instincts, passion, and appreciation of unconventional talent garnered him a large following of collectors. He is responsible for curating some of the most extraordinary private collections of art in existence today.[2][6]

Despite living in New York City, he was an enthusiastic proponent of California’s Bay Area art scene. He admired the “spirit of independence” exhibited by artists like Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson.[6] Arneson pursued his interest in the off-beat ceramics that would make him famous in part due to Stone’s urging.[12] During the early 1960s, the Allan Stone Gallery exhibited Arneson’s now celebrated clay toilets, phallic teapots, trophies, and other funky sculptures when no one else would give them a second glance.[6]

Stone was also a leading authority on Abstract Expressionism, particularly de Kooning, Kline, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Arshile Gorky.[2][9] Stone was interviewed regarding his expertise on Pollock for the 2006 film, Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock.[13]

Relationship with Wayne Thiebaud

Stone’s most significant partnership with an artist was with Wayne Thiebaud, who he represented for over four decades. Their relationship is renowned as “one of the most influential partnerships in American postwar art, and [has] left a legacy that many of today’s artists and dealers struggle to emulate.”[9]

Stone and Thiebaud met in 1962 when the struggling Thiebaud was convinced he was “only good at being bad.”[14] The young artist had spent a disheartening day showing his artworks to uninterested galleries on Madison Avenue. The Allan Stone Gallery, at the northernmost end of the street was his last stop. He was instantly captivated by the artist’s lush modern still-lives of pies and gumballs machines and became Thiebaud’s most enthusiastic advocate. He even ignored Barnett Newman’s advice “to get rid of the pie guy—Thiebaud.”[8]

He gave Thiebaud his first solo show later that year, spurning Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Chuck Close in the process by offering them a group show to make space in his schedule to showcase Thiebaud.[6] The exhibition resulted in a very favorable review in the New York Times and a significant number of sales, including a private purchase by a curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exposure Thiebaud received at the gallery launched his career and contributed to the gallery’s growing reputation as one of the most respected in New York.[9]

After Stone died in 2006, Thiebaud would remark, “He was the only dealer I ever had over a 45-year period. We were more than friends. We were practically family.”[6]

Personal life

Allan Stone was married twice, first to Marguerite Cullman with whom he had four daughters and later to Clare Chester with whom he had two more daughters. He died in his sleep from heart failure at his home in Westchester County, New York in 2006. In 2007, Stone’s daughter, Olympia Stone made a film about her father entitled The Collector: Allan Stone’s Life in Art.[6][15]

In the media



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Smith, Roberta (2006-12-18). "Allan Stone, Noted Art Dealer and Collector, Dies at 74". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Allan Stone: Ahead of the Curve. (Spring 1995). In Manhattan Arts International. New York, NY.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Allan Stone Collection: An Aesthetic Vision on Sotheby's Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved July 06, 2020, from
  4. Stone, A. (2006). Glimpses of Willem de Kooning [Introduction]. In Willem de Kooning: Slipping Glimpses 1920s to 1960s (pp. 5-7). New York, NY: Allan Stone Gallery.
  5. Stone, A. (2003). [Introduction]. In John Chamberlain: Early Works (pp. 1-3). New York, NY: Allan Stone Gallery.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Hamlin, J. (2012, January 21). Allan Stone -- art dealer, Abstract Expressionism expert. Retrieved July 06, 2020, from
  7. Rago's Auctions to Feature Works from the Estates of Art Dealer Allan Stone (2019, November 01). Retrieved July 06, 2020, from
  8. 8.0 8.1 Allan Stone: Past and Future. (1995, January 1). Art and Auction.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 A Strong Foundation: Wayne Thiebaud and the Allan Stone Gallery. (2020). In Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, New York, 10 July 2020 (pp. 31-32). New York, NY: Christie, Manson and Woods.
  10. Grand Salon: The Visionary Eye of Allan Stone: Allan Stone Projects. (2018, August 17). Retrieved July 06, 2020, from
  11. Joseph Cornell: Recollections [Introduction]. In Joseph Cornell (pp. 1-5). New York, NY: Allan Stone Gallery.
  12. Fineburg, J. (2012). [Introduction]. In Robert Arneson: Playing Dirty (p. 3). New York, NY, NY: Allan Stone Gallery.
  13. Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (2006). (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from
  14. Stone, A. (1995). Wayne Thiebaud and the Allan Stone Gallery: Celebrating 33 Years Together. New York, NY: Allan Stone Gallery.
  15. "The Collector :: Floating Stone Productions". Retrieved 2020-09-24.

External links

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