How did we get to know Allan Stone? Forty-five years ago, I had never heard of Allan Stone. At that time I became interested in contemporary painting and wanted to learn about the Abstract Expressionists, especially de Kooning, Kline and Gorky. All the dealers suggested the Allan Stone Gallery so I went and met Allan Stone, a youthful, interesting and charming person. He made the subject very clear, and its great importance to art in general. His approach was very contagious, and Bernice and I spent many visits to his gallery over the years - some buying, some looking, and others just talking. We became interested in his other artists: Thiebaud, Estes, Cornell, Graham, Hickam, and Chamberlain.
There never was an end point to what Allan liked. Many things other than paintings: statuary, fabrics, etc. etc. Very little African art was in the gallery, perhaps because it was not for sale. We had several occasions to visit Allan at his home in Purchase, New York, which contained his massive personal collection. It was like a colossal edifice compared to his New York gallery. The house contained what looked like hundreds of the various forms of art he liked – confusing to the onlooker but probably well-documented in his mind. Many happy hours were spent with him on subjects and objects he wished us to see in the one or two less cluttered rooms. Occasionally we carefully travelled through the halls, viewing the various pictures on the walls.
Allan Stone in the main living room fo the Stone family residence in Purchase, New York. Photoraphy by Clare Stone.
When we were looking for an African art dealer we asked Allan whom he would recommend, and he suggested Merton Simpson who was his friend and advisor. Both of them were interested in similar types of art. Allan at one time wanted to be a painter, and Merton was active as a painter before he became a gallerist. Allan used his advice and knowledge in collecting African art and acquired many pieces from him. In turn, painting was Merton’s private passion and he loved to talk about it. Merton seemed very fond of Allan, not only in his knowledge of art but their shared love of jazz which Merton played beautifully. Both men had a strong passion for Songye art.
I found Merton to be a sincere and honest person. He was always interested in showing me something new, and many of our discussions were about Abstract paintings and shows. I was always interested in large Songye figures but Bernice found them too severe to live with. Merton showed me several pieces in vain which wound up in Allan’s collection. However, I am sure we would have gotten the Four-Horn Songye had it been shown to us.
Dr. Sidney Clyman
Scarsdale, New York, September 2013