The Visionary Eye of Allan Stone

Allan Stone; Allan Stone Gallery, New York, c. 1975. Images courtesy of the Allan Stone Collection

Founded in 1960 by art dealer Allan Stone (1932–2006), the New York gallery known today as Allan Stone Projects has been admired for over half a century. Celebrated for its eclectic approach and early advocacy of pivotal artists of the 20th century, Allan Stone Gallery was a leading authority on Abstract Expressionism, the New York dealer for Wayne Thiebaud for over forty years, and showed the works of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Joseph Cornell, John Graham and John Chamberlain. Stone also promoted the work of a younger generation of artists that were in conversation with other artists in his collection, working in the mediums of assemblage, collage and new modes of abstraction. In addition to modern masterworks and contemporary art, Allan Stone also collected and exhibited international folk art, Americana and important decorative arts and industrial design.

William Umbreit b. 1935

William Umbreit was born in East Orange, New Jersey, in 1935. After serving in the United States Army from 1954-56, he was honorably discharged in 1962. Umbreit received a BSA from New York University in 1967 and an MFA from Rutgers University in 1969. He taught at Cedar Valley College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the visual arts program at Princeton University, Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and The Sloan School of Art in South Orange, New Jersey. Umbreit received a 1985 grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The artist’s work has been featured in shows at the Hudson River Museum, Neuberger Museum, Newsweek Gallery and Allan Stone Gallery; and featured in Artspeak, Artforum and The New York Times. Umbreit lives and works in Hampton, New Jersey.

William Umbreit’s work is characterized by a craftsman's passion and a longing for simpler times. While his farm implements are categorized by traditional names-rakes, pitchforks, ladders, spades, shovels, hammers, blades, shears and mallets-their appearances are not true to their titles. In Umbreit’s practice, an expertise in fine carpentry is used to create implements that twist, bulge, contort and pinch, to create other- worldly shapes that appear to defy the laws of gravity and our own preconceptions of form and meaning. Is a pitchfork still a pitchfork, when the handle curves and expands erratically and the steel prongs bend, choking the wood, so as to make it unusable? The artist began making these works in the 1970s, while looking at the shadows cast by functional tools on the walls of his studio. Like in Disney’s Fantasia when brooms are brought to life to help the sorcerer’s apprentice, Umbreit’s sculptures seem to possess life as if caught in the act of “anthropomorphising.” The most obvious precedent is the art of HC Westermann, who channeled his mastery of woodworking and cabinetry into intricate subversions of classical crafts. Manifestations of his interests in ecology and archeology, Umbreit’s tools are an homage to the unpredictability of the natural world and a false belief that we hold absolute control over our surroundings.

Auction Results William Umbreit