Unsung Heroines 1967 – 1996

Women Artists from the Allan Stone Collection

The present lot is among the powerful selection of works by women artists from the Allan Stone Collection. Not only was Allan Stone a pioneering supporter of Abstract Expressionism and emerging artists, he also celebrated works by women who were forging new ground in the world of art, often without the support or recognition of the larger art community. Driven by personal experience and the need for expression, these women created inventive works exploring politics, gender roles, storytelling, abstraction and art history.  

He could make a visual decision very quickly. It was like love at first sight. He trusted his instincts.

Lorraine Shemesh

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.

Martha McKay 1924–1983

Martha McKay was born in Washington, DC in 1924. She studied graduated from the Corcoran School of Art 1951 and attended the École Fernand Léger. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Academy of Science, Washington, DC; the Salon de Beaux Art, Paris; and the Rome-New York Art Foundation, Rome, among others. Her work is in several public and private collections in the United Stated and abroad, including the Rome-New York Art Foundation.

In her paintings, McKay embraces the "allover abstraction" techniques of her expressionist contemporaries. Her frenetic, calligraphic strokes draw the viewer's eye around the entire canvas, subverting formal traditions of composition and perspective. McKay drew inspiration from the Japanese "Gutai" art group, as well as artists and critics she met while living in Paris and New York. Though widely exhibited during her career, McCay struggled to gain recognition from the larger art world due to ger struggles with mental illness. After being hospitalized before a major solo show in New York, the artist moved with her family to Maryland in 1961, where she lived and worked until her death in 1983.

Auction Results Martha McKay