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Stillmans in Museums

The Ary Stillman Green Room, Moores School
of Music,
The University of Houston

Temple Emanu El, Houston, TX

Beth Shalom,
Sioux City, IA


Private Collections

  Galleries and Museums  
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..."

Ary Stillman
Bertha Schaefer Gallery

January 25 - February 13, 1954
Press Clippings

"Ary Stillman, whose journey away from impressionist realism through the mazes of abstraction at times seemed confused and convictionless, has at last found his way. His newest paintings, at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, have an assurance and control earlier efforts have lacked. His palette is much lighter and fresher; his forms more magnetically integrated; his handling of space lyrical rather than mathematical; his textures sensuously transparent. Once in a while, as in 'Door to the Sea,' there are signs of the old unresolved tension."

New York Herald Tribune
January 30, 1954

"On the other hand, Ary Stillman, whose paintings are at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, finds artistic salvation in writhing patterns, in which linear convolutions are most prominent. Back and forth they weave, now sleepy in color and now bright, coiling like snakes in a basket, to create designs whose contracts of light and dark both ride on the surface and suggest infinite pictorial depths."

The New York Times
January 30, 1954

"In the earlier paintings in this show Stillman tackles a problem posed but not resolved in his work of two years ago: the integration of line with amorphous color. The problem is solved, most impressively perhaps, in Door To The Sea, a large painting with an air of confused reverie about it, a sense of overlapping visual memories of sea and coastline. That there is no confusion in the painting itself is due to the artist’s successful handling of bold arabesques of black line which sweep across the canvas, weaving in and out, over and under passages of dimly luminous color. Others among the earlier paintings suggest forest clearings in which thick coiling lines, like trailing vines, tie clumps of space together.

With the more recent paintings Stillman enters on a new phase, abandoning line temporarily and working with sharply defined undulant shapes painted in pale transparent colors. Here there is a sense of constant movement and transformation. When line reappears (in Galaxy and Interplay No. 2, two unusually good paintings), it is white and a function of color."

Art Digest
February 1, 1954

"Ary Stillman's abstractions at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery are more lyrical, more abstruse than his earlier work. Color is muted and the artist seems to take a new interest in the play of varied textures. Less immediate in impact, these canvases are ultimately more profound.

The largest canvas here, Door To The Sea, is a rhythmic constellation of forms moving horizontally- and softened forms which suggest the interactions of sea and shore. This painting and a few others hint that the artist has become interested in the metamorphic possibilities of organic shapes. The most recent compositions depend on heavy linear overlays on delicately transparent grounds, illuminating his paintings from within. "

by D. A.
Pictures on Exhibit
January or February, 1954

Door to the Sea
oil on canvas
44 x 36
Private Collection, CA
Interplay #1
oil on canvas
24 x 20
Foundation Collection, TX

"Ary Stillman, abstractionist whose elements of calligraphy and arabesque overlying grayed, atmospheric color are both romantic and intimate, has been searching for a more decided direction since his last one man show two years ago. Looking for a future in terms of the recent past, Stillman revisited Paris and, upon his return, painted several much more decisive pictures in which the figures and the space were related to the Cubist idiom. From this came the last, most successful works here. Some, notably 'Abstraction of an Expanse,' are relaxed, looser, in transparent luminous color; others combine white geometric figures with pleasingly textured grounds. In painting more vital pictures, Stillman has also found a subject—the crystallization of the interaction of space and light. It adds up to his best show yet."

by L.C.
Art News
February 1954

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