Federico Cantú 1907-1989
The Stendahl Galleries
In 2011 the Stendahl Galleries of Art achieved a milestone: one hundred years of continuous operation.
Founder Earl L. Stendahl (1887-1966) came to Southern California from a small town in Wisconsin. Unschooled in the world of art or commerce, Stendahl began nurturing young Los Angeles artists by showing their work at his downtown restaurant, The Black Cat Café. Before long the still-young art dealer was putting on shows for Edgar Payne, Guy Rose, William Wendt, Nicolai Fechin, Joseph Kleitsch and other masters of the California Impressionist school at his gallery in The Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. His clients included Hollywood celebrities, museums, educators, European emigres, politicians, even royalty.
Pioneer Stendahl next turned to the great names of European and revolutionary American and Latin American modern art: Matisse, Klee, Kandinsky, Chagall, Brancusi, Feitelson, Siqueiros, Rivera. Few remember that in 1939 Stendahl hosted one of only two non-museum exhibitions of Pablo Picasso's masterwork, Guernica, to benefit Spanish war orphans.
As early as 1935 Stendahl began promoting ancient artifacts from Mexico and Central America. Over time the Stendahl Galleries have become synonymous with Pre-Columbian art, nationally and internationally. Stendahl's first client for the material was noted collector Walter Arensberg, who lured Stendahl to his Hollywood neighborhood as a personal friend and dealer. The Stendahl Galleries expanded into the Arensberg estate in 1954. Stendahl had helped Walter and Louise amass what one art historian called "the most discriminating single group of twentieth century paintings and sculpture in existence."