Excerpted from Reminiscences,
by Frances Stillman, 1988
"...It was in the fall of 1947 or perhaps
the spring of 1948 that Bertha Schaefer opened her gallery on
57th Street. She had been widely known for years as an interior
decorator, but for some time she had been eager to widen the
scope of her work and to gather around her a group of representative
painters. She wanted to advance the idea that one shouldn't choose
a painting to fit in with the decor of a room, that one should
choose a painting or paintings he or she would want to live with,
and then build the tone of the room around the painting or paintings.
She talked with Ary about this a number of times they
had been friends for years and when she was prepared to
exhibit her first group show she asked Ary to send in a painting.
Milton Avery was in that show I recall, and Will Barnet, Ben
Zion, Sue Fuller, Ary and others I can't remember. From this
came a continued association for Ary with Bertha's gallery many
group shows, and a series of five one-man shows, beginning in
February 1949 through 1954, until we left New York for Paris..."
January 23 - February 11, 1950
"Ary Stillman, exhibiting his newest pictures
in a one-man show at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, is a solid
painter in the realistic-impressionist manner, who a few years
ago, began to go abstract. For a while colors muddy, forms obscure.
His latest efforts indicate that at last he has found himself
in the new vein. Designed,for the most part, on musical themes
(some of his titles are "Obligato", "Overture",
and "Jazz"), the handsome new canvases are rhythmical
in pattern, so composed that the well-defined shapes hold together
in almost magnetic fashion."
New York Herald Tribune
January 26, 1950
"The spirited paintings and drawings by Ary
Stillman, at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, belong in the border
region between semi and complete abstraction. With their dots
and dashes and flat patches of form and paint texture, the principal
impression they make is one of nervous expressiveness. Some titles,
such as 'Jazz,' indicate that certain ones have been inspired
by hearing music. Others, like 'Legend,' carry suggestive poetic
ideas. This literary content, vague though it may be, is all
to the good. For, as abstractions, they leave something to be
desired. Their color harmonies, warm and rusty as those of a
Persian carpet, would be no more than decorative without the
inferences of subject matter to which the artist attaches them.
In the drawings all his delicacy as a technician is manifested."
by Stuart Preston
The New York Times
January 29, 1950
"Ary Stillman, in his second one man show,
giving free rein to linear impulse, communicates glimpses of
a personal inner world which at best is warm and lyrical. Although
his painterly abstractions may at first glance recall the early
Kandinsky, Stillman's direction is actually less expressionist
and more poetic, and he seems considerably indebted to Oriental
art with its linear interplay and elegant decoration. This filtering
of feeling through the meshes of another art is probably, at
the same time, the source of much of the charm as well as some
of the limitation of these ingratiating paintings. Stillman seems
to let his brush wander almost automatically in search of a motif
which is never more than suggested. Faces, figures and fragments
of exotic landscapes appear in glowing color planes or are caught
in a web of line without ever resolving into material forms.
oil on canvas
University of Houston,
Moores School of Music, TX
|Obligato (Ode to Night)
oil on canvas
21 x 20
Baltimore Museum of Art, MD
"Ary Stillmans current exhibition asserts
again how well an abstract style can serve lyrical statement
and enrich the evocative image. In the 13th New York exhibition
by this poetic painter, he sustains his personal mood and quality
of individuality throughout.
Musical themes inspire three paintings and without
descending to trite analogies, they successfully translate the
intangibles of one art form into another. "Overture,"
for example, captures the rising sense of promising beginnings
that such a musical composition can offer.
Other pictures that also use warm, romantic color
and rhythmic design to highly satisfying results include "Decoys",
in which subject-objects are still clearly discernible but woven
into gay fantasy, and "Spectrum II," which sings a
kind of spring song. In addition to the paintings, the exhibition
also includes seven drawings, all more abstract than the paintings
but amply designed and communicative."
by Judith Kaye Reed
The Art Digest
February 1, 1950
"Ary Stillmans abstractions are on view
at the Bertha Schaefer Galleries through February 11th. Titles
would seem to be of secondary consideration in this demonstration
of the artists investigation into form and color. May it
suffice that, colorwise, the artist has never lost control of
his aesthetic reins and that the resultant muted color is successfully
utilized in his experiments with depth, line, action and movement.
The balance of power achieved between color and form is strikingly
Pictures on Exhibit