Universal Limited Art Editions is now considered a legendary name synoymous with creating some of the first and most important and sought after prints by American Post-War artists. Founded by Tatyana Grosman in West Islip, New York, by turning her living room into a workshop, she gathered, cajoled and inspired the best artists, printers and papermakers into reviving the art of contemporary printmaking.
One of Grosman's first inspirations was to bring together artists and writers to produce 'livres d'artistes'. STONES was the first of these projects initiated at ULAE. Although they hadn't collaborated before, Larry Rivers and Frank O'Hara were friends and referred to each other in their own work. Rivers had painted O'Hara many times including a nude portrait, O'Hara (1954), and in 1955 O'Hara wrote the poem On Seeing Larry Rivers' "Washington Crossing the Delaware" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They worked on the STONES for about two years without much planning but with a lot of enthusiasm, always working jointly, side by side and never separately.
The title comes from the lithographic stones themselves, actually taken from Grosman's yard, and one can see the complete stone itself as part of the image. This was a difficulty that the master printer, Robert Blackburn, had to overcome but a request that couldn't be denied Tatyana Grosman. Grosman's search for the perfect paper lead her to Douglas Howell, who created a handmade paper from pure linen at a rate of only a few sheets a day. He also created the linen and blue denim cover. Grosman wanted the cover to be denim since she rarely saw Rivers and O'Hara wear anything else.