Louis Stone attended the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Art and subsequently summer programs with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Stone also studied at the Art Students League in New York in 1926 and 1927. After leaving the Art Students League, Stone spent the summer in Gloucester painting. While there he met and soon after married, art student Caroline Hoag, who was an heiress from Newark, NJ. With his new wife, Stone traveled to Saint-Tropez, France in 1929, and later to Munich to study with Hans Hoffman. Through 1933, Stone traveled with his wife through Europe and for a time in 1928, rented Cézanne’s home/studio in Aix-en-Provence with his friend Charles Evans.
In 1933, the Stones returned to the United States and co-founded, with painter James S. Morris, the Stone-Morris School of Fine Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. The Depression hindered the success of this school and shortly after the school was initiated, it was shuttered. In 1935, upon the suggestion of his friend, Charles Evans, Stone moved to Lambertville, New Jersey – a ten-minute walk across the Delaware River from the art colony of New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Charles Evans introduced Stone to prominent local artist Charles F. Ramsey, who, along with Lloyd Ney, had founded “The Independents” – an important group of abstract artists. Stone became a very active member of the group, which was struggling to gain recognition in a culture that was not particularly receptive to abstract art. Throughout his career, Stone exhibited regularly with the Independents. Other artists represented in this LewAllen Galleries exhibition, who were members of The Independents, include Lloyd Ney and Ralston Crawford.
In 1938, Stone, Evans, and Charles Ramsey offered summer classes in abstract and non-objective painting in New Hope. Together, Inspired by the performances of improvisational jazz musicians, they established the Cooperative Painting Project – holding visual “jam sessions,” – one night a week – where the three artists would work together on a single painting, signing their finished artwork with the a fusion of their combined last names, “Ramstonev” (Ramsey|Stone|Evans).
Stone was continually searching artistically and worked in numerous Modernist styles. Over the years, he created Constructivist-style compositions of severely simplified geometry; abstracted still-life paintings reminiscent of Braque; diagrammatic pictures that echo Picasso of the 1920s; biomorphic imagery influenced by Surrealism; and jazzy orchestrations of percussive pattern, swooping line and curvy shapes that recall Kandinsky and Stuart Davis.
Louis Stone is considered one of the most important and sought after of the New Hope Modernists. His work is relatively scarce and is often executed in a small format of either watercolor or gouache. His most prolific period seemed to be from 1936-1945, when he created colorful and appealing abstract compositions. Although, he did paint a body of work in oil, these paintings are rare.
Stone exhibited at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, and in 1941 in the Creative Arts Program in Princeton, New Jersey, an exhibition juried by John Marin, Alfred Barr, and Lee Gatch. Stone also exhibited in the American Artist Congress in 1938 at the New Jersey State Museum, the Newark Museum, and in New Hope with the Independents.