In October, 1992 a friend, George Skakel, called to tell me of an “incredible” house he had just toured. The house was that of his occasional tennis partner, Allan Stone. I asked George if he could describe in more granulated terms the word “incredible.” George couldn’t; said I had to call Allan and visit his place in Purchase, New York. I then called Allan and scheduled a visit for the following Sunday.
Prior to my visit I had little interest in specific art genres and knew nothing of tribal art. Upon arriving, Allan was most welcoming and gave me a tour of his collection. The collection was overwhelming. It was thousands upon thousands of objects; a narrow road from the kitchen to a sofa in the living room with objects ten deep. I wasn’t sure if I was viewing the objects or the objects were viewing me. I felt lost in a forest of art.
Unlike museums where objects can be viewed one and then another like a musician performing solo, at Allan’s place the objects were an orchestra; all instruments playing together to create a music beyond their individual capacities and Allan was the conductor. The objects were not simply things to view but an experience. At that moment I was smitten.
The following day I identified all the major tribal art dealers in New York City and began collecting tribal art. Today, I own roughly 600 objects as I’ve strived to recreate the experience at Allan’s. However, what I am fortunate to live with is more like a band relative to Allan’s orchestra. But I have much to thank Allan for putting me on a path of aesthetic and intellectual experiences that I would not have likely found on my own.
Westport, August 2013