The Stable Gallery records measure 2.9 linear feet and are dated 1916-1999 (bulk 1953-1970). The gallery was known for its representation of the New York School. Records consist mainly of artist files containing biographical notes, correspondence, price lists, sales and payment information, printed matter, and photographs. A small number of gallery administrative and financial records are included, along with printed matter, photographs, and personal papers and estate records of gallery founder and owner Eleanor Ward. There are also reminiscences by gallery owner Eleanor Ward and her assistant Alan Groh, a sound cassette recording of Eleanor Ward, and a videoreel (1/2 inch) documentary of a 1973 Sotheby auction of works from the Robert C. Scull collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The Stable Gallery records measure 2.9 linear feet and are dated 1916-1999 (bulk 1953-1970). The gallery was known for its representation of the New York School. Records consist mainly of artist files containing biographical notes, correspondence, price lists, sales and payment information, printed matter, and photographs. A small number of gallery administrative and financial records are included, along with printed matter, photographs, personal papers, and estate records of gallery founder and owner Eleanor Ward. There are also reminiscences by gallery owner Eleanor Ward and her assistant Alan Groh, a sound cassette recording of Eleanor Ward, and a videoreel (1/2 inch) documentary of a 1973 Sotheby auction of works from the Robert C. Scull collection.
The Stable Gallery's administrative records includes both general correspondence and copious letters from Eleanor Ward to Alan Groh, her assitant regarding gallery business, lists, floor plans, financial records, printed matter, and photographs of unidentified artwork and exhibition installations. There are also reminiscences by gallery owner Eleanor Ward and Alan Groh, a cassette recording of Eleanor Ward, and a film recording of a 1973 Sotheby auction of works from the Robert C. Scull collection. Additional Stable Gallery administrative and financial information, as well as related printed matter is included with the artist files.
Artist files contain biographical notes, correspondence, price lists, printed matter, and photographs of artists and artwork. The correspondence includes memoranda regarding payments to artists and sales information. Among the printed matter is documentation of the Stable Gallery and other exhibitions, reviews, and miscellaneous articles. Unfortunately, no records about the famous Stable Annuals held between 1953 and 1957 survive.
Artwork consists of 4 sketchbooks and loose sheets with charcoal drawings by unidentified artist(s).
The Eleanor Ward papers include miscellaneous personal papers and records concerning her estate. Photographs in the series are of Eleanor Ward, friends and family, parties, and the interior and exterior of Ward's Connecticut house.
The collection is arranged as four series:
Series 1: Administrative Records, 1955-1986 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 1, 4, 5)
Series 2: Artist Files, 1952-1997 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 3: Artwork, circa 1955-1970 (3 folders; Box 4)
Series 4: Eleanor Ward Papers, 1916-1999 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 2-4, 5)
Established in 1953 by Eleanor Ward (1911-1984), the Stable Gallery derived its name from its first home, a former livery stable on Seventh Avenue at West 58th Street, New York City. Long interested in art and recognized for her "good taste" and "flair," Mrs. Ward had vaguely considered the idea of opening her own gallery for some time and received encouragement from Christian Dior, with whom she had worked in Paris. In 1952, opportunity arose to lease a suitable building that would later become a gallery. At first, Ward and a friend sold mannequins and made the large, empty space available for fashion photography; in December, she operated a Christmas boutique for a few weeks.
The Stable Gallery opened in 1953 with an exhibition of work by Ward's friend Mike Mishke, a commercial artist. She then arranged for the Stable Gallery to host a sequel to the 1951 Ninth Street Show (the initial show, organized by the Club with financial assistance from Leo Castelli, was held in an empty store on Ninth Street). The New York Artists Annual, better known as the Stable Annual, was selected by the artists themselves; this well-attended, widely-reviewed, and influential exhibition continued until 1957. Participating artists included Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem deKooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Stankiewicz, and Jack Tworkov.
The Stable Gallery soon became a gathering place for artists, including some not in Stable's "stable." Over the years, the Stable Gallery presented the first one-man shows of Robert Indiana, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. Among the artists closely associated with the gallery were: Joseph Cornell, Edward Dugmore, John Ferren, Alex Katz, Conrad Marca-Relli, Marisol, Joan Mitchell, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Stankiewicz, Cy Twombly, Jack Tworkov, and Wilfred Zogbaum. The gallery was known for dramatic, somewhat theatrical installations, and occasionally presented exhibitions beyond its usual focus (photographs by Hans Namuth and pre-Columbian sculpture, which personally interested Ward).
When the block where the Stable Gallery stood was razed in 1960 to make way for a high rise apartment building, Mrs. Ward moved her gallery to 33 East 74th Street, where she was able to maintain an apartment for herself upstairs. Quite abruptly, Ward closed the Stable Gallery in 1970, noting changes in the art scene, growing commercialization, and a loss of enthusiasm that made the gallery merely a business for her. Alan Groh (1923-1996), who started as Eleanor Ward's assistant in 1956 and was eventually named gallery director, became director of A. M. Sachs Gallery. Mrs. Ward traveled widely and acted as an art consultant to selected clients.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Eleanor Ward conducted by Paul Cummings, February 8, 1972.
The Stable Gallery records were the gift of the Estate of Eleanor Ward. In 1984, artist files were received from Alan Groh, executor of Ward's estate and her assistant at the Stable Gallery. Additional records were donated in 1997 by Buzz Miller on behalf of the Estate of Eleanor Ward; Mr. Miller was Alan Groh's partner and executor of his estate. Another addition was received in 1999 from Paul Gardner, executor of the Estate of Buzz Miller. A final addition of 0.2 liner feet was donated in 2019 by Nancy Berner, Alan Groh's niece.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.