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Ellis Clark Gallery

Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Abstract Black with Colors
Date: c. 1950
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 55 x 33 in. (139.7 x 83.8 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
LOUIS RIBAK (1903-1979), moved to Taos in 1944.

In his first show in eight years [Louis Ribak] reports from Mexico and the Southwest with added strength and color. There is new freedom with emphasis on forms as such rather than on objects ...

—New York Times, May 1954

Beginning with work that was included in the 1934 Venice Biennale and continuing with his social realist painting of the 1930s, Louis Ribak captured vibrant images of urban life with considerable power. He was making an important career when, in 1944, he abandoned New York for Taos with his wife, Beatrice Mandelman. Various reasons have been suggested for the move: Ribak’s health; John Sloan's suggestion that the couple move to New Mexico; and their general disenchantment with New York. All these were probably contributing factors, but, since there was a good deal of wanderlust in Ribak, perhaps he just needed a change. As curator Harry Rand observed in the catalog of a 1984 exhibition of Ribak’s late paintings,

Something entirely unsuspected gripped Ribak in the Southwest and he was never able to disenthrall himself from the heady solemnity of the landscape, its beauty or emotive potential.

Ribak's approach shifted from social realism to full abstraction during his Taos years. Much of his early Taos work consists of semi-abstract landscapes, artistically descended from the paintings of American artist Albert P. Ryder. In Ryders’ work there is a living aspect to the environment in which humankind is not isolated, but is instead an intimate part. Ribak seems to have brought this concept with him from New York but, under the powerful influence of contact with New Mexico's pueblos, it was dramatically reinforced, expanded, and adapted to the changed circumstances of his life. He had to change to meet the demands of the new environment. Mandelman later said, “We had to start all over again. We spent the first couple of years painting the landscape” as a means of coming to understand the West.

Highly respected by his peers, Ribak was looked up to by the Taos Moderns as “an elder compadre,” a role model. In 1947, he opened the Taos Valley Art School for returning veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to pay tuition and living expenses. In addition to attracting beginners, mature artists who needed no training used the stipend to enable them to continue painting and drawing. Ribak, like Andrew Dasburg, offered no ideology to his students: “I’m not truly anything. I’m against everything. Damned abstract[ionist]s, realists, illustrators …” He condemned taking any single approach—he believed this would lead to academicism, an art of deadness, whether abstract or representational.

Ribak was well-acquainted with the work of the abstract expressionists and knew artists of the New York School. In the mid-1950s, Mandelman and Ribak sojourned in New York, then returned to Taos. From that time, Ribak developed the lyrical abstract expressionism that would occupy much of his subsequent career. Movement No. 1 and Movement No. 2 are examples. The flowing calligraphy evident in much of his work developed from decades of landscape drawings. His abstract paintings seem not to have come from cubism so much as out of his own preoccupation with working directly from nature.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992).
c. 1950
Louis Ribak
Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Abstract with Gray, Yellow, and White
Date: 1948
Medium: Oil painting
Dimensions: frame: 15 1/4 x 19 1/8 in. (38.7 x 48.6 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
LOUIS RIBAK (1903-1979), moved to Taos in 1944.

In his first show in eight years [Louis Ribak] reports from Mexico and the Southwest with added strength and color. There is new freedom with emphasis on forms as such rather than on objects ...

—New York Times, May 1954

Beginning with work that was included in the 1934 Venice Biennale and continuing with his social realist painting of the 1930s, Louis Ribak captured vibrant images of urban life with considerable power. He was making an important career when, in 1944, he abandoned New York for Taos with his wife, Beatrice Mandelman. Various reasons have been suggested for the move: Ribak’s health; John Sloan's suggestion that the couple move to New Mexico; and their general disenchantment with New York. All these were probably contributing factors, but, since there was a good deal of wanderlust in Ribak, perhaps he just needed a change. As curator Harry Rand observed in the catalog of a 1984 exhibition of Ribak’s late paintings,

Something entirely unsuspected gripped Ribak in the Southwest and he was never able to disenthrall himself from the heady solemnity of the landscape, its beauty or emotive potential.

Ribak's approach shifted from social realism to full abstraction during his Taos years. Much of his early Taos work consists of semi-abstract landscapes, artistically descended from the paintings of American artist Albert P. Ryder. In Ryders’ work there is a living aspect to the environment in which humankind is not isolated, but is instead an intimate part. Ribak seems to have brought this concept with him from New York but, under the powerful influence of contact with New Mexico's pueblos, it was dramatically reinforced, expanded, and adapted to the changed circumstances of his life. He had to change to meet the demands of the new environment. Mandelman later said, “We had to start all over again. We spent the first couple of years painting the landscape” as a means of coming to understand the West.

Highly respected by his peers, Ribak was looked up to by the Taos Moderns as “an elder compadre,” a role model. In 1947, he opened the Taos Valley Art School for returning veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to pay tuition and living expenses. In addition to attracting beginners, mature artists who needed no training used the stipend to enable them to continue painting and drawing. Ribak, like Andrew Dasburg, offered no ideology to his students: “I’m not truly anything. I’m against everything. Damned abstract[ionist]s, realists, illustrators …” He condemned taking any single approach—he believed this would lead to academicism, an art of deadness, whether abstract or representational.

Ribak was well-acquainted with the work of the abstract expressionists and knew artists of the New York School. In the mid-1950s, Mandelman and Ribak sojourned in New York, then returned to Taos. From that time, Ribak developed the lyrical abstract expressionism that would occupy much of his subsequent career. Movement No. 1 and Movement No. 2 are examples. The flowing calligraphy evident in much of his work developed from decades of landscape drawings. His abstract paintings seem not to have come from cubism so much as out of his own preoccupation with working directly from nature.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992).
1948
Louis Ribak
Artist: Ben Wade
Title: Abstraction
Date: c. 1960
Medium: Limestone sculpture
Ben Wade (1919 - 2007)
Boise, ID

Dates in Taos: 1970-2005

c. 1960
Ben Wade
Artist: Gene Kloss
Title: Acoma
Date: 1934
Medium: print
Dimensions: Overall: 13 7/8 x 9 3/4 in. (35.2 x 24.8 cm) Framed: 23 1/8 x 18 3/8 in. (58.7 x 46.7 cm)
Gene Kloss (1903-1996)
1934
Gene Kloss
Artist: Robert D. Ray
Title: Away
Date: 1965
Medium: Oil on linen
Dimensions: 60 × 40 in. (152.4 × 101.6 cm)
Robert D. Ray (1924 - 2002)
Dates in Taos: 1954
1965
Robert D. Ray
Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Beach Scene
Date: c. 1950
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 41 x 36 in. (104.1 x 91.4 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
LOUIS RIBAK (1903-1979), moved to Taos in 1944.

In his first show in eight years [Louis Ribak] reports from Mexico and the Southwest with added strength and color. There is new freedom with emphasis on forms as such rather than on objects ...

—New York Times, May 1954

Beginning with work that was included in the 1934 Venice Biennale and continuing with his social realist painting of the 1930s, Louis Ribak captured vibrant images of urban life with considerable power. He was making an important career when, in 1944, he abandoned New York for Taos with his wife, Beatrice Mandelman. Various reasons have been suggested for the move: Ribak’s health; John Sloan's suggestion that the couple move to New Mexico; and their general disenchantment with New York. All these were probably contributing factors, but, since there was a good deal of wanderlust in Ribak, perhaps he just needed a change. As curator Harry Rand observed in the catalog of a 1984 exhibition of Ribak’s late paintings,

Something entirely unsuspected gripped Ribak in the Southwest and he was never able to disenthrall himself from the heady solemnity of the landscape, its beauty or emotive potential.

Ribak's approach shifted from social realism to full abstraction during his Taos years. Much of his early Taos work consists of semi-abstract landscapes, artistically descended from the paintings of American artist Albert P. Ryder. In Ryders’ work there is a living aspect to the environment in which humankind is not isolated, but is instead an intimate part. Ribak seems to have brought this concept with him from New York but, under the powerful influence of contact with New Mexico's pueblos, it was dramatically reinforced, expanded, and adapted to the changed circumstances of his life. He had to change to meet the demands of the new environment. Mandelman later said, “We had to start all over again. We spent the first couple of years painting the landscape” as a means of coming to understand the West.

Highly respected by his peers, Ribak was looked up to by the Taos Moderns as “an elder compadre,” a role model. In 1947, he opened the Taos Valley Art School for returning veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to pay tuition and living expenses. In addition to attracting beginners, mature artists who needed no training used the stipend to enable them to continue painting and drawing. Ribak, like Andrew Dasburg, offered no ideology to his students: “I’m not truly anything. I’m against everything. Damned abstract[ionist]s, realists, illustrators …” He condemned taking any single approach—he believed this would lead to academicism, an art of deadness, whether abstract or representational.

Ribak was well-acquainted with the work of the abstract expressionists and knew artists of the New York School. In the mid-1950s, Mandelman and Ribak sojourned in New York, then returned to Taos. From that time, Ribak developed the lyrical abstract expressionism that would occupy much of his subsequent career. Movement No. 1 and Movement No. 2 are examples. The flowing calligraphy evident in much of his work developed from decades of landscape drawings. His abstract paintings seem not to have come from cubism so much as out of his own preoccupation with working directly from nature.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992).
c. 1950
Louis Ribak
Artist: Ada E. "Buff" Haney
Title: Blossoms and Trees
Date: 1950
Medium: oil
Dimensions: Overall: 19 1/2 x 23 1/2 in. (49.5 x 59.7 cm) Framed: 23 1/2 x 27 3/4 in. (59.7 x 70.5 cm)
Ada E. "Buff" Haney (1916-2003)
1950
Ada E. "Buff" Haney
Artist: Janet Lippincott
Title: Blue Tear
Date: n.d.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 33 1/16 x 33 1/16 in. (83.9 x 83.9 cm) frame: 33 3/8 x 33 3/8 in. (84.8 x 84.8 cm)
Media File
Janet Lippincott (1918-2007)
n.d.
Janet Lippincott
Artist: Louise Ganthiers
Title: Bouquet
Date: c.1950-1960
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 45 15/16 x 24 3/16 in. (116.7 x 61.4 cm) Framed: 46 7/8 x 25 1/8 x 1 1/4 in. (119.1 x 63.8 x 3.2 cm)
Louise Ganthiers (1907-1982)
LOUISE GANTHIERS (1907-1982), moved to Taos in 1950.

From a study of these paintings it appears obvious that the artist is heading toward a completely non-objective type of painting … her work demonstrates how a serious painter holds the mental conception within the bounds of plastic color. 46

—Alfred Morang, 1952 [cite source]

Louise Ganthiers came to Taos with the hope of becoming an artist. An administrator in a textile business, she had a longstanding interest in art and studied with the figurative-fantasy artist Rufino Tamayo in New York. In Taos, she became familiar with the artistic concepts of Hans Hofmann, and applied the results of all her training to her work. 47 In a statement about her relationship to art, she said:

I don't paint with ease. I wish I were capable of the smashing directness of some of my contemporaries. Some of these sketches have that quality. In carrying them further will I move toward the lyric, the muted understatement of the beautiful and gentle? I have been struggling to reach further into the abstract to break up forms in new ways to fix a space dimension on the canvas that has not been my approach. Yet if I find that I am saying something that infers crassness or harshness I won’t be happy. I have tried to speak in different ways against tragedy, injustice and waste but my way is not that of harshness. 48 [cite source]

Ganthiers waged a struggle on both artistic and economic fronts. In the 1950s, she sold frozen custard to Taos tourists during the summer; she also went to San Francisco to find work and to show her paintings. There her paintings caught the attention of prominent art critic Alfred Frankenstein, who wrote several reviews of her work over the years. He may have seen the encaustic painting Buffalo Dancer (1954). There is an undeniable wildness to the figure which seems to be of another world. The dancer clearly has merged with the animal spirit. Frankenstein wrote:

Miss Ganthiers … is a painter who likes a rich, complex impasto, lays on her color most often with the palette knife, and brings off whatever she does with great skill and finely imaginative design. Her abstractions are excellent, but most striking of all are her pictures derived from the Indian dances she has seen in Taos, where she lives. Her big single figures are magnificently drawn, and her studies of group choreography handle the rhythms, the color, and the mysterious character of their subjects equally well … [It is refreshing] to see this theme handled by a creative artist who brings it genuine imagination, selectivity and power over the expressive values of paint. 49 [cite source]

Edited excerpt from David Witt, Taos Moderns (1992)
c.1950-1960
Louise Ganthiers
Artist: Harry Nadler
Title: Broken Vessel II
Date: 1989
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Dimensions: Overall: 35 11/16 x 22 1/16 in. (90.7 x 56 cm) Framed: 46 7/8 x 32 5/16 x 1 1/2 in. (119 x 82 x 3.8 cm)
Harry Nadler (1930-1990)
1989
Harry Nadler
Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Canyonlands (Canyon Series)
Date: c. 1960
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 47 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. (120.7 x 80 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
LOUIS RIBAK (1903-1979), moved to Taos in 1944.

In his first show in eight years [Louis Ribak] reports from Mexico and the Southwest with added strength and color. There is new freedom with emphasis on forms as such rather than on objects ...

—New York Times, May 1954

Beginning with work that was included in the 1934 Venice Biennale and continuing with his social realist painting of the 1930s, Louis Ribak captured vibrant images of urban life with considerable power. He was making an important career when, in 1944, he abandoned New York for Taos with his wife, Beatrice Mandelman. Various reasons have been suggested for the move: Ribak’s health; John Sloan's suggestion that the couple move to New Mexico; and their general disenchantment with New York. All these were probably contributing factors, but, since there was a good deal of wanderlust in Ribak, perhaps he just needed a change. As curator Harry Rand observed in the catalog of a 1984 exhibition of Ribak’s late paintings,

Something entirely unsuspected gripped Ribak in the Southwest and he was never able to disenthrall himself from the heady solemnity of the landscape, its beauty or emotive potential.

Ribak's approach shifted from social realism to full abstraction during his Taos years. Much of his early Taos work consists of semi-abstract landscapes, artistically descended from the paintings of American artist Albert P. Ryder. In Ryders’ work there is a living aspect to the environment in which humankind is not isolated, but is instead an intimate part. Ribak seems to have brought this concept with him from New York but, under the powerful influence of contact with New Mexico's pueblos, it was dramatically reinforced, expanded, and adapted to the changed circumstances of his life. He had to change to meet the demands of the new environment. Mandelman later said, “We had to start all over again. We spent the first couple of years painting the landscape” as a means of coming to understand the West.

Highly respected by his peers, Ribak was looked up to by the Taos Moderns as “an elder compadre,” a role model. In 1947, he opened the Taos Valley Art School for returning veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to pay tuition and living expenses. In addition to attracting beginners, mature artists who needed no training used the stipend to enable them to continue painting and drawing. Ribak, like Andrew Dasburg, offered no ideology to his students: “I’m not truly anything. I’m against everything. Damned abstract[ionist]s, realists, illustrators …” He condemned taking any single approach—he believed this would lead to academicism, an art of deadness, whether abstract or representational.

Ribak was well-acquainted with the work of the abstract expressionists and knew artists of the New York School. In the mid-1950s, Mandelman and Ribak sojourned in New York, then returned to Taos. From that time, Ribak developed the lyrical abstract expressionism that would occupy much of his subsequent career. Movement No. 1 and Movement No. 2 are examples. The flowing calligraphy evident in much of his work developed from decades of landscape drawings. His abstract paintings seem not to have come from cubism so much as out of his own preoccupation with working directly from nature.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992).
c. 1960
Louis Ribak