17" x 23.5", oil
on canvas - Sold
Louis Leon Ribak
Louis Ribak emigrated
with his family
from Russian Poland to New York City in 1912. He studied at the Art
Students League during the early 1920’s under John Sloan. Sloan was an
editor for the radical periodical, New Masses, and prompted the young
artist to illustrate for the publication.
In 1929, Ribak’s involvement with New Masses led him to become a
founding member of a closely associated group, the John Reed Club. Over
the next few years he exhibited with the club and, in 1933, he received
attention from critics including the New York Sun for his painting,
"Striking Farmers." Ribak joined the Silk Screen Group in the late
1930’s as he believed, along with a group of liberal artists, that the
print medium was the “people’s art of the twentieth century.” Also
during the 1930’s, Ribak worked for the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) as a muralist.
In 1942, he married fellow artist Beatrice Mandelman. In the mid
1940’s, the couple followed the advice of John Sloan and moved to New
Mexico. The move was prompted in part by the desire for a healthier
climate for Ribak but also because they felt a need to leave New York
as they had become disillusioned by “dissention between Social Realists
and Abstract Expressionists.”
In 1947, the Ribaks’ opened and instructed at the Taos Valley Art
School. The school closed in 1953 when the couple returned to New York
City. However, the move back to New York was short-lived and they
settled permanently in Taos in 1956.
In 1959, the couple opened the Gallery Ribak in their home. The gallery
showed their own work as well as that of other Taos artists. In
addition to the gallery, Ribak regularly exhibited in other locations
throughout the region. In New Mexico, Ribak shifted his to focus
entirely to full abstraction saying that as an artist he was “not truly
anything. I am against everything. Damned abstract[ionists], realists,
Exhibited: Society of Independent Artists, 1925; Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts Annual, 1933, 1946, 1950, 1953; World’s Fair, New
York, 1939; Golden Gate Exposition, San Francisco, 1939; Corcoran
Gallery biennial, 1947; Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum;
Metropolitan Museum of Art; Newark Museum; Springfield Museum of Fine
Art; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Walker Art Center; Whitney Museum of
American Art; Worcester Museum of Art.
Works Held: Brooklyn Museum; Newark Museum; United States Post Office,
Albemarle, North Carolina (WPA mural); University of Arizona; Whitney
Museum of American Art.
Further Reading:Taos Artists and Their Patrons, 1898-1950, Dean A.
Porter, Tessa Hayes Ebie and Suzan Campbell, Snite Museum of Art,
University of Notre Dame, 1999.
Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America,
Vol. 3. Peter Hastings Falk, Georgia Kuchen and Veronica Roessler,
eds., Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1999. 3 Vols.