Mod­ernist Marriage

Beatrice Man­del­man and Louis Ribak are the sub­jects of a new exhibition at Modern West Fine Art

American Fine Art Magazine - - My View - By John O’hern

Beatrice Man­del­man and Louis Ribak are the sub­jects of a new exhibition at Modern West Fine Art

Beatrice Man­del­man (1912-1998) and Louis Ribak (1902-1979) went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, shortly af­ter their marriage in 1942 to visit John Sloan who had been Riback’s teacher at the Art Stu­dents League of Newyork. they found Santa Fe con­gested, so they trav­eled north to Taos where they de­cided to set­tle—far from their roots in the Newyork art scene and its con­flicts be­tween so­cial real­ism and ab­strac­tion.

Taos had an art scene that was more tra­di­tional than they were used to, and there were no gal­leries show­ing mod­ernist art.the hey­day of the Taos So­ci­ety of Artists, who ro­man­ti­cized the life of the Na­tive pop­u­la­tion, had long past, how­ever. Man­del­man and Ribak weren’t alone in be­ing at­tracted to a dif­fer­ent Taos. Sev­eral modern artists had moved there be­fore them and they were soon joined by oth­ers. David Witt, for­mer cu­ra­tor of the Har­wood Mu­seum in Taos wrote,“they came to Taos sep­a­rately, but to­gether they ended up cre­at­ing the most im­por­tant pe­riod in the his­tory of the Taos art com­mu­nity.” Ray­mond Jon­son (1891-1982) cu­rated an exhibition at the Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico in 1956 fea­tur­ing a group of artists who be­came known as the Taos Moderns.the exhibition in­cluded the work of avant-garde Taos

artists in­clud­ing Man­del­man and Ribak, An­drew Das­burg, Louise Gan­thiers, Ward Lock­wood, agnes Martin, Robert Ray, Emil Bist­tram, Clay Spohn, John De Puy, Howard Cook, ted Egri, Thomas Ben­rimo and oth­ers. Man­del­man’s and Ribak’s works are be­ing fea­tured in an exhibition at Modern West Fine Art in Salt Lake

City through June 10.The gallery has part­nered with Rosen­berg & Co. in Newyork and the Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico Foun­da­tion to present the exhibition cu­rated by Shalee Cooper. It includes works by the two artists from the 1960s and 1970s.

The gallery notes,“the move to the West in­spired a new pal­ette and di­rec­tion for the artists, not only in their sur­round­ings, but also in their re­la­tion­ships with other es­teemed artists. Taos ma­tured into one of the epi­cen­ters for modern artists in­clud­ing, Ge­or­gia O’ke­effe, Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko and Clyf­ford Still.the West be­came a per­co­lat­ing cen­ter for artists and home to Bea and Louis where they founded their own school in 1947, the Taos Val­ley Art School. this exhibition con­sists of works by each artist em­pha­siz­ing how they

worked in con­sort while es­tab­lish­ing their own dis­tinct voices.”

Man­del­man be­gan paint­ing ab­stractly in the 1950s. She had been a so­cial re­al­ist and fig­u­ra­tive painter. She com­mented on her and Ribak’s move to the South­west,“we had… to get ac­quainted with the forms, the light, the mean­ing, the whole sense of be­ing here in the West.” the ex­pe­ri­ence changed their work dra­mat­i­cally. Ribak, too, was a so­cial re­al­ist, ex­hibit­ing with artists such as Stu­art Davis, Regi­nald Marsh, Mau­rice Sterne and Raphael Soyer. In 1933, he worked with Diego Rivera on a mu­ral for the lobby at Rock­e­feller Cen­ter. He also moved to­ward ab­strac­tion and a brighter pal­ette af­ter their move to Taos, but ac­knowl­edged that he was in­spired by the forms of na­ture.

The Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico Foun­da­tion man­ages the Man­del man ribak Col­lec­tion of 50 years of the artists’ works.the col­lec­tion was as­sem­bled and cat­a­loged by the Man­del­man-ribak Foun­da­tion, which do­nated it to the Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico through its foun­da­tion in 2014. When the artists’ per­sonal pa­pers have been archived they will be avail­able to re­searchers “pro­vid­ing in­sights into the his­tory of the mod­ernist move­ment.”

Louis Ribak (1902-1979), Jug­glers, 1974. Acrylic on can­vas, 74 x 37 in.

Beatrice Man­del­man (1912-1998), Big Ap­ple, Sun Se­ries No. 12, 1970. Oil on Ma­sonite, 35½ x 23¾ in.

Louis Ribak (1902-1979), Blue Peach Ab­stract, 1960s. Oil on can­vas, 32 x 50 in.

Beatrice Man­del­man (1912-1998), Un­ti­tled, 1970. Mixed me­dia col­lage on pa­per, 20 x 16 in.

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