Changes are afoot at the 53-year-old Allan Stone Gallery. The company will close its doors at 5 E. 82nd St. and reopen in November under the name Allan Stone Projects on the third floor of 535 W. 22nd St., in the Chelsea gallery district. The new location will be open by appointment and will be dedicated to exhibiting works from the gallery's extensive and varied holdings of modern masterworks, contemporary art, tribal and folk art, Americana, decorative arts and industrial design.
Allan Stone, who died in 2006, founded the gallery on the Upper East Side in 1960 and dealt in both primary- and secondary-market works. A prolific collector, Stone had a knack for contextualizing the work of less established artists by juxtaposing it with more familiar art, like pairing a then little-known Joseph Cornell with Willem de Kooning in 1965, an example given by associate director Bo Joseph, who spoke to A.i.A on the phone.
Since Stone's passing, one of his daughters, Allison Stabile has been a trustee of his estate; she has run the gallery since 2011. Though she worked with her father for some years in the 1980s, and grew up immersed in a milieu of artists and collectors, Stabile has no other experience as an art dealer.
Joseph worked at Allan Stone from 1996-2007 and rejoined the organization in 2011. In discussing the gallery's inventory, Joseph notes that while it is perhaps best known for its large selection of Abstract Expressionist works and boldfaced names such as de Kooning and Wayne Thiebaud, Stone's collection is most impressive for its "truly mind-boggling range and volume."
"How do we do justice to such a prodigious and myriad spectrum of works?" Joseph asked. "The traditional gallery model, of having just one showroom where it all goes down, proves to be limited." He expects that the new private-dealer model will allow more flexibility for a "diversity of projects that is consistent with the diversity of our material."
The gallery's new mission is devoted to the secondary sale and scholarly study of its holdings, as well as working with other venues, dealers and art fairs to promote Stone's collection. Inaugurating the Chelsea space will be a show devoted to works on paper from the New York School. A future show will take the form of a wunderkammer, an early museum model noted for its wide range of items.
Allan Stone Projects is working with artists such as Robert Baribeau, Richard Hickham, Dennis Clive, James Grashow and Kazuko Inoue, who were represented by the gallery at the time of Stone's death, to ensure that they find new representation, Joseph told A.i.A. The gallery will continue to exhibit its holdings of these artists' work, as well as publishing their monographs.
The gallery will also be offering its works up at auction. Sotheby's will host sales of the Allan Stone collection of African, Oceanic and Indonesian art on Nov. 15, as well as in November of next year.