Rebecca H. Green

STILLMAN, ARY (1891–1967). Ary Stillman, artist, was born in Hretzk, White Russia, on February 13, 1891. A long-time resident of Houston, Stillman bequeathed most of his paintings to the Lack-Stillman Foundation, whose purpose is to make Stillman's work available to the public. His artistic ability was recognized early, and he was sent to the Imperial Art School at Vilna. In 1907 he emigrated to the United States, where he settled in Sioux City, Iowa, with his aunt and uncle, and a year later he sent for his widowed mother, sister, and brothers. Stillman studied for a short time in 1912 at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1919 he went to New York. There he studied at the National Academy of Design under George Maynard at the Art Students League, and at the Jewish Educational Alliance. In 1921, after two years of study in New York City, Stillman went to Europe, where he stayed for twelve years. During this period he spent his time traveling throughout Western Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. His only period of formal study was for a short amount of time in Paris under André L`Hote. In 1933 Stillman returned to New York City. During the first half of his career Stillman's style was objective and academically inspired, his forms taking on only a slight abstract quality. However, by the end of World War II he made an abrupt change, and his style became totally abstract. Stillman exhibited his first abstract painting in 1945. He continued in this nonobjective style for the rest of his career. In Paris Stillman exhibited in the Salon National des Beaux Arts, the Salon Tuileries, the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Echanges, and with Des Artistes Americains Modernes de Paris. He also had a one-man show at the Gallerie Zak (1930) in Paris. From the years 1933 to 1955, when he was living in New York, he had several one-man shows in such galleries as the Ehrich-Newhouse Gallery (1935), the Guild Art Gallery (1937), Babcock Gallery (1939), and the Bertha Schaeffer Gallery (1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954). During his lifetime his work also appeared in exhibitions in major United States museums, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Stillman was a member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, for which he served as secretary and chairman of the exhibition committee. On February 26, 1942, Ary Stillman married Frances Fribourg. They continued to live in New York City until 1955. The next two years were spent on a return trip to Europe, where he spent most of his time in Paris and Majorca. In 1957 he went to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he lived for five years painting and sketching. During this period his work was profoundly affected by Mayan art. Stillman's final move was to Houston, Texas, where he remained until his death on January 28, 1967.

Richard Teller Hirsch, Ary Stillman, 1891–1967 (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1972). Ary Stillman, Ary Stillman (Houston: Stillman-Lack Foundation, n.d.). Frances Fribourg Stillman, Ary Stillman in Mexico (1990?).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Rebecca H. Green, "STILLMAN, ARY," accessed March 19, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox