When Allan Stone died at 74 on Dec. 15, 2006, the art world lost a passionate, funny and big-hearted collector, as well as an art dealer with a discerning eye and a long-standing enthusiasm for the work of emerging artists. I know this from personal experience. Allan was the first person to buy my own work, about 10 years ago, purchasing not one but six pieces of mine -- he liked to get in on the ground floor and buy in volume! The support, encouragement and validation that I got from that first sale to a man who was a serious art-world collector have stayed with me to this day.
Many other young artists got their first break thanks to Allan Stone. He was instrumental in the early career of Eva Hesse, showing her drawings in the U.S. for the first time in 1963, and was an early supporter and collector of the work of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Joseph Cornell and John Graham, among others. Allan’s tastes were famously eclectic and wide-ranging. An acknowledged expert on Abstract Expressionism, he also gave Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Estes their first New York shows and represented them for many years.
A grandson of Sam Klein (of the now-defunct landmark Union Square department store "S. Klein’s on the Square"), Allan was a collector who entered the gallery business to support his collecting habit. In addition to modern and contemporary art, he was a voracious collector of African, tribal and folk art. Many knew him as a maverick dealer with an unorthodox but unerring eye, but I remember Allan as a warm, down-to-earth, unpretentious and generous man who lived large and had large appetites. He loved playing tennis, meeting interesting people, telling a good story, hearing a good joke, making large informal dinners with friends and family, and seeking out sweets of all kinds.
He was not ill before he died in his sleep last week. On the contrary, he had just returned from Miami, where his gallery participated in Art Basel Miami Beach, full of energy and optimism for the future. He is survived by his wife Clare; daughters Allison, Jeremy, Claudia, Heather, Jessie and Olympia; brother Richard and sister Marilyn Siegel; and many friends in New York, San Francisco and Maine and around the world. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
ORIANE STENDER is a Brooklyn-based artist and writer.