In 1889, the University of New Mexico began with a transformational gift of land where UNM was built and remains to this day as New Mexico’s flagship university. 125 years later, UNM has received another transformational gift that will impact generations to come. On Monday, UNM President Robert Frank announced at the David Findlay Jr. Gallery in Manhattan, N.Y. that the Mandelman-Ribak Foundation in Taos has donated over 5,000 pieces of art spanning 50 years of work by Taos modernist painters, Beatrice Mandelman and Louis Ribak.

Many of these pieces will enhance the collections of UNM’s art museums and provide insight into the modernist painting movement for art researchers in New Mexico and across the globe. Other pieces will be sold to bring the work of these two influential artists to museums, galleries and collectors throughout the world with proceeds benefiting the art programs at UNM.

“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 Robert 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 Mandelman-Ribak Foundation was established in 1997 with the mission to preserve and perpetuate the artistic legacies of Beatrice Mandelman (1912-1998) and her husband Louis Ribak (1902-1979). Mandelman and Ribak were artists who moved to Taos in the 1940’s from New York as part of an influx of artists from New York and California who were later known as the “Taos Moderns.” Mandelman was inspired by the light, local color, landscape and confluence of diverse cultures in Taos. Ribak was also captivated by the landscape and diverse cultures of northern New Mexico which transformed his artistic style from Social Realism towards abstraction.

“Mandelman and Ribak were pioneering artists instrumental in the modernist movement in New Mexico,” says Alexandra Benjamin, executive director of The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation. “Before her death, Bea sought to find a place that could preserve and make accessible their artworks and archives. The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation is delighted that UNM will be that place and that our gift will benefit the art programs, museums and libraries of the University of New Mexico.”

The Mandelman-Ribak gift, which includes the extensive personal papers of both artists, will provide historians, researchers and artists insights into the history of the modernist movement. The archival process will begin in fall 2014 through Zimmerman Library’s Center for Southwest Research. The goal is to have the archive completed in approximately three years, which will allow these materials to be accessible to the University community, citizens of New Mexico and researchers and scholars worldwide.

“As beneficiaries of this gift, UNM will become stewards of this collection of unique and significant artwork and archival materials. It allows us to preserve and share the immense legacy of these two important artists with others,” Virginia Scharff, UNM associate provost and Distinguished Professor of History said. “This wonderful gift 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.”

“UNM is honored to be the beneficiary of this treasure,” Frank said. “These paintings have a priceless value to art historians, museum goers, and UNM students. This gift serves as an inspiration to UNM, our community, and artists and historians worldwide.”

For additional information contact:
Dianne Anderson, director, University Communications & Marketing, (505) 277-1807
Jennifer Kemp, communications manager, UNM Foundation, (505) 277-0600
Alexandra Benjamin, executive director, Mandelman-Ribak Foundation, (575) 751-0310
Virginia Scharff, UNM associate provost and Distinguished Professor of History, (505) 277-4344