Allan Stone Gallery is pleased to present Remarkable Treasures: Folk Art from the Allan Stone Collection, January 12 through March 10, 2012, the gallery’s second exhibition at its new East 82nd Street location. From primitivist painting, antique carousel animals, and cigar store figures, to weather vanes, store signs and prison art, this exhibition gathers over twenty five rare, prized, whimsical and bizarre folk art treasures from the collection of legendary art dealer and collector Allan Stone. Though he is most recognized for handling New York School artists such as Willem de Kooning and Joseph Cornell, Allan Stone had a covetous appetite for any aesthetic object that manifests formal vitality, visceral intrigue, unselfconscious conviction and personal vision. Combined with passionate connoisseurship, this appetite brought together the extraordinarily rich cross section of folk art and Americana from which this exhibition is drawn.
Many of the works in this exhibition were selected for their significance in the field of folk art and others for their universal accessibility or visceral impact. Most of the pieces on view were made with a utilitarian purpose that became illuminated by formal expression through the crafting process, such as a chair made of beer cans, a weather vane in the form of a rooster or an elliptical clock decorated with one giant eye. Several non-utilitarian objects in the show touch on the facetious and bizarre, such as a cluster of ghoulish figures made from gnarled roots or a small pine cone figure wearing a tiny leather jacket. Paintings in the exhibition range from nautical subjects and primitive figuration to invented fantasy landscapes.
Some of the highlights include an exceptional circa 1880 carved and painted pine “Turk” cigar store figure attributed to Samuel Robb from New York, an antique carousel camel with its original bridle still attached, a peculiarly lifelike bust of Henry Clay, and a celebrated work of “prison art” from the collection depicting a carved polychrome gorilla in stiff contraposto. On the lyrical side is an anonymous abstract figure of a man poised in a serene dance-like gesture, carved from wood in a manner reminiscent of Nadelman or early Brancusi. The beckoning sweep of his arm and the gently nuanced surface of this work fittingly convey the élan permeating the entire Allan Stone collection.