The Mandelman-Ribak Collection is a unique and comprehensive collection of paintings and works on paper reflecting 50 years of work created by Beatrice Mandelman (1912-1998) and Louis Ribak (1902-1979), two of the Taos Moderns.
The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation was established with the mission to preserve and perpetuate the artistic legacies of these two influential artists. For more than 15 years, the staff and volunteers of The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation catalogued, organized and established the provenance of every piece of artwork in the collection, and they ensured that the work was secured and stored properly to safeguard these extraordinary pieces.
In 2014, the Mandelman-Ribak Foundation donated the entire collection of paintings and works on paper reflecting 50 years of work by Mandelman and Ribak to The University of New Mexico (UNM) through its charitable arm, the UNM Foundation.
Many of the pieces will enhance the collections of UNM’s art museums and provide insight into the modernist painting movement for art researchers in New Mexico and across the globe. Other pieces will be sold to bring the work of these two influential artists to museums, galleries and collectors throughout the world with proceeds benefiting UNM’s art programs, museums and libraries.
The Mandelman-Ribak gift also includes the extensive personal papers of both artists, which will be archived through the UNM Zimmerman Library Center for Southwest Research. Once archived, these materials will be available to citizens of New Mexico as well as historians, researchers and artists worldwide, providing insights into the history of the modernist movement.
Art historians and students throughout time will owe a debt of gratitude to The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation’s board, executive director, staff and volunteers for their dedicated and thoughtful work in preserving this art collection.
The University of New Mexico is grateful for this transformational gift which honors the legacy of Beatrice Mandelman and Louis Ribak and will benefit UNM’s students and programs now and into the future.
If you are interested in purchasing a piece of artwork by Mandelman or Ribak, please contact Suzanne Awen at (505) 277-1586.
About the Artists
Beatrice Mandelman (1912-1998) and her husband Louis Ribak (1902-1979) moved to Taos in the 1940’s from New York as part of an influx of artists from New York and California who became known as the “Taos Moderns.”
Mandelman was inspired by the light, local color, landscape and confluence of diverse cultures in Taos. Ribak was also captivated by the landscape and diverse cultures of northern New Mexico which transformed his artistic style from Social Realism towards abstraction.
Beatrice Mandelman was born on December 31, 1912 in Newark, New Jersey, and from an early age she was determined to be an artist. At age 12, she began taking classes at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art. In the 1930s, she attended Rutgers University, the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and the Art Students League in New York City.
In 1935, Mandelman was employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), first as a muralist and then as a printmaker with the Graphic Division of the New York Project. One of the original members of the Silk Screen Unit under Anthony Velonis, Mandelman worked in the WPA until 1942, when it was disbanded.
During this period, she was associated with numerous New York School artists including Louis Lozowick, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, and Stuart Davis. By 1941, Mandelman’s works were included in important exhibitions at the Chicago Art Institute, the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Mandelman married Louis Ribak in 1942; and in 1944 they traveled to Santa Fe to visit Ribak’s teacher and mentor, the artist John Sloan, who’d recommended the climate and atmosphere. Finding Santa Fe congested, they took the train along the Rio Grande and a stagecoach up to Taos and decided to settle there. An impulsive and inspired move, it was a decision that would effectively remove them from the art world’s mainstream. In 1944, Taos was a well-known art community, but there were no galleries exhibiting modern art. A new influx of artists from New York and California during the late 1940s and 1950s would change this. A group of these artists, including Mandelman and Ribak, Ed Corbett, Agnes Martin, Oli Sihvonen, and Clay Spohn, would become known as the “Taos Moderns.”
Mandelman was an intensely dedicated painter. In the relative isolation of Northern New Mexico, she found the freedom to develop a style that was distinctly her own. Inspired by the light, the local color, the landscape and the confluence of diverse cultures in Taos, her work flourished.
Throughout her lifetime, together with Ribak and after his death in 1979, Mandelman was adventurous and profoundly curious about art and life and culture. She loved to travel and drew inspiration from it. Over the years she lived for extended periods in Mexico and traveled extensively in South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Beatrice Mandelman died June 25, 1998 in her Taos home. In the last months of her life, she produced the 31 works in the Winter Series. Over the span of seven decades, Beatrice Mandelman produced a body of work consisting of hundreds of paintings, prints, collages, and works on paper.
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Louis Leon Ribak was born in the Lithuanian province of Grodno Gubernia in 1902. When he was 10, he immigrated with his family to New York City.
In 1922, he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and he studied with John Sloan at the Art Students League in 1923 and at the Educational Alliance in 1924. Sloan’s influence guided Ribak’s development. As an editor for the radical periodical “New Masses,” Sloan encouraged Ribak to illustrate for the publication. In 1929, Ribak become a founding member of the John Reed Club, a group closely associated with “New Masses.”
Ribak’s work during the 1930s and early 1940s is dominated by social realism. His painting “Coal Miners” is in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum, and “Home Relief Station” is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In the early 1930s, Ribak had several one-man exhibitions at the A.C.A Gallery in New York and regularly exhibited with “An American Group Inc.”, a group of socially conscious painters including Stuart Davis, Reginald Marsh, Maurice Sterne, Raphael Soyer, and others. In 1933, Ribak assisted Diego Rivera on the mural for the lobby of Rockefeller Center; and in 1935, he worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a muralist. Ribak participated annually in the Whitney Museum’s Exhibition of Contemporary American Art from its inception in 1932 until he left New York in 1944. In 1934, Ribak’s work was chosen for the Venice Biennial.
Louis Ribak met Beatrice Mandelman at a dance sponsored by the Artists Union and in 1942 they married. That same year, he was drafted for military service, but two years later he was released from service due to asthma. In 1944, the couple traveled west to visit John Sloan in Santa Fe and shortly after, moved to Taos. The move was prompted in part by the need for a healthier climate for Ribak, but also because they had become dissatisfied with the New York scene due to “dissension between Social Realists and Abstract Expressionists.”
In New Mexico, Ribak’s artistic style underwent a transformation from Social Realism towards abstraction. He was captivated by the landscape and the diverse cultures of northern New Mexico. Ribak founded the Taos Valley Art School in 1947. He offered no ideology to his students, arguing that taking any single approach would lead to academicism. Ribak was an integral force in the development of the Taos Moderns, an allied group of artists including Mandelman, Ed Corbett, Andrew Dasburg, Agnes Martin, Oli Sihvonen, and Clay Spohn. Ribak’s mature style was characterized as lyrical abstract expressionism.
In their life together, Ribak and Mandelman traveled widely and took yearly winter sojourns to San Miguel, Mexico. With the Canyon Series and the Aegean Series, Ribak embraced the abstracted form completely, though he never ceased to derive inspiration from working directly from nature. Throughout his life, he sketched and drew prolifically, his subject matter including rock, plant and canyon forms, land and seascapes, portraits, animals, city and rural scenes.
Louis Ribak died in 1979.
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