© Laura Walker

Beatrice Mandelman (1912 -1988)

Beatrice Mandelman (December 31, 1912 – June 24, 1998), known as Bea, was a prolific American abstract artist associated with the group known as the Taos Moderns. She was born in Newark to Jewish immigrants who imbued their children with their social justice values and love of the arts. After studying art in New York City and being employed by the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project (WPA-FAP), Mandelman arrived in Taos, New Mexico, with her artist husband Louis Leon Ribak in 1944 at the age of 32. Mandelman’s oeuvre consisted mainly of paintings, prints, and collages.  Much of her work was highly abstract, including her representational pieces such as cityscapes, landscapes, and still lifes. Through the 1940s, her paintings feature richly textured surfaces and a subtly modulated, often subdued color palette. New Mexico landscape and culture had a profound influence on Mandelman’s style, influencing it towards a brighter palette, more geometric forms, flatter surfaces, and more crisply defined forms.  One critic wrote that the “twin poles” of her work were Cubism and Expressionsim.  Her work is included in many major public collections, including large holdings at the Harwood Museum of Art and the University of NM Art Museum.

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