The Estate of Beatrice Mandelman
203 Fine Art, Taos, New Mexico
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Mandelman-Ribak Collection
I am a believer in the poetry of the subconscious moving into the realm of abstraction. My work could be called ‘subjective abstractions.’ I have the freedom of choice today to let my space flow. I make room in my painting for the observer to dream.
-Beatrice Mandelman, Mandelman Shows in Taos, 1977, Santa Fe New Mexican
A prolific painter throughout her life, Beatrice Mandelman, or “Bea,” knew she wanted to be a painter from an early age. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1912, Mandelman was introduced at an early age to Russian Constructivism and other avant-garde movements by Louis Lozowick, an artist and family friend. She began taking classes at the age of 12 at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and eventually studied at both Rutgers University and the New York Art Student’s League. From 1935 to 1942, Mandelman was employed by the Works Project Administration in New York, where she became associated with numerous New York School artists including Louis Lozowick, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, and Stuart Davis. Although Mandelman’s style was to evolve over time, she remained committed to modernism and abstraction throughout her career.
In 1944, Mandelman and her husband, Louis Ribak, settled in Taos, New Mexico. She and Ribak became a part of the group of artists known as the Taos Moderns, which included Ed Corbett, Agnes Martin, Oli Sihvonen, and Clay Spohn. Far from the strictures of the New York art scene, Mandelman 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. The artist moved away from her previous, Ashcan, social-inspired scenes of the WPA period and adopted a bright, expressive version of Abstract Expressionism, often working in series.
Collage was a frequent technique in Mandelman’s oeuvre beginning in the 1950s. Her ability to form captivating compositions through shifting blocks of color, whether with paper or oil on canvas, can be seen in many works. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she also began to reduce her palette and focused on primary colors used in conjunction with black and white. Mandelman’s adroit use of negative space is applied in Spring, c. 1970s. The background in this painting is neither neutral nor a void. Rather it is an already established presence that must be considered in relation to the colors and lines, which puncture, divide, and transform it into an entirely different kind of surface.