October 9, 2014
An important collection of modern art that was created in New Mexico will get to stay here.
The results of 50 years of work by Taos couple Beatrice Mandelman and Louis Ribak, who were pioneering artists of the Taos Modernist movement, will find a home at the University of New Mexico. The 900 major pieces of fine art, including paintings, sketchbooks, prints, drawings and archival records, is worth nearly $8 million.
“The arts are critical to the uniqueness of New Mexico and UNM plays a critical role in preserving the legacy of New Mexico artists for future generations,” said UNM President Bob Frank. “This gift not only honors the legacy of Bea and Louis, but will continue to benefit the students and programs of UNM into the future.”
The collection was donated to the university by the Mandelman-Ribak Foundation in Taos, which was established in 1997 to preserve the couple’s artistic legacies. Other museums, including the Smithsonian, also wanted the collection. The couple moved to Taos from New York in the 1940s.
The significance of the collection and the fact that it is staying in New Mexico is not to be understated.
“Bea was aware of their pivotal roles and sought to find a place that could preserve and make accessible their artworks and archives. In her own mind, that place was always the University of New Mexico,” said Alexandra Benjamin, the Taos foundation’s executive director.
Associate Provost and Distinguished Professor of History Virginia Scharff said the collection “will not only enhance our knowledge of the modernist movement, but it will also make UNM a major repository for research for artists and historians around the world.”
The selection of UNM to preserve the Mandelman-Ribak legacy speaks to the significant role the state and the university have in the art world. This is another treasure in the state’s jewel box.