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Press, Ary Stillman's American Indians

November 9, 1930
Chicago Sunday Tribune (Paris Edition)
by B. J. Kospoth

The American Indian in his primitive haunts has inspired Ary Stillman in a very remarkable series of compositions which are at present on view at the Galerie Zak, under the shadow of the old church of St. Germain-des-Pres. Indians have been painted before. In fact, they were so popular with the old American illustrative artists that real painters have come to regard them with suspicion. But Stillman’s Indians are visualized and pictured in an entirely new way that seems bound to attract attention even in the blasé city of Paris and should serve to awaken America to a sense of the artistic possibilities offered by its primitive inhabitants.

Ary Stillman is no stranger in Paris. His first one-man show at Bernheim’s two years ago aroused interest through certain qualities in his canvases that revealed an uncommon temperament and a striving after an original technique. Since then he has been back in America, in Sioux City where he worked as a jeweler in the days of his difficult beginnings, and particularly in New Mexico, where he saw and studied the Pueblo Indians in their religious dances. The compositions in which he has fixed his vision of these strange and colorful scenes are a fulfillment of the expectations aroused by his earlier landscapes.

It is always a laudable undertaking for an artist to paint American pictures and show them in Paris. It helps to prove to some people that it is not absolutely necessary that a picture to be painted in Brittany or on the Cote d’Azur in order to be good. Ary Stillman, however, has done more than this. He has succeeded in painting unusual subjects in an unusual manner. He has perfected a style of his own that is both highly effective and decorative, and that is moreover peculiarly suited to the scenes it is used to represent.

For many years an ardent lover and student of old tapestries, Ary Stillman has evolved a technique that gives his canvases the texture of woven colors. This method is singularly effective in rendering the color and movement of his Indian dance pictures and it ensures harmony and rhythm of composition to a surprising degree. Its originality and effectiveness are particularly apparent in Stillman’s large composition entitled Corn Dance, which shows a compact group of Pueblo Indians, men and women, celebrating the religious rite of thanksgiving after the harvest. This canvas, the most ambitious work which Stillman has yet painted, presents problems which would have been extremely hazardous but for this curious tapestry technique; as it is, it is wonderfully harmonious and rhythmical in composition. The picture should find a place in an American museum as an important example of an American subject treated in a thoroughly new way. Noted French artists who have seen it were equally impressed by the decorative beauty of the picture and the novelty of its style.

The reproductions of Ary Stillman’s pictures on this page give no idea of the interest of his work, which is of the sort that does not take kindly to the photographic lens. In addition to the War Dance and the Indian Singers, there are other characteristic Indian compositions and several landscapes of New Mexico and the country around Sioux City, besides a very typical self-portrait of the artist. Stillman has selected the pictures carefully, striving to show only works in which his new technique is fully realized. Thus, while the number of canvases is limited, the show is exceptionally interesting in its unity.

Ary Stillman has shown his previous work in Chicago, Philadelphia and Saint Louis, and has also had a one-man show in New York, besides contributing to the Paris “Salons.” His present exhibition marks what would appear to be a decisive advance in the creative development of an extremely gifted and personal artist.

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Art Review

New York Times

"From the Summer of ’50, Luminous Drawings"
By Benjamin Genocchio
August, 19, 2007

Sayville #23

Current Exhibition

Coming Up Soon...

Ary Stillman: From Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism

From Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism Edited by James Wechsler Foreword by Donald Kuspit

Upcoming Exhibition

Ary Stillman
Spirits of the Underworld

Spirits of Underworld

Van Deren Coke Gallery
at the University of
New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque

October 7-December 2, 2008


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