Untitled Seated Nude, c. 1920s
b. 1902, Grodono, Lithuania (now Belarus)
d. 1979, Taos, New Mexico
Louis Ribak was born in the Grodono province, formerly Lithuania, and immigrated to New York when he was ten years old. Ribak studied at the Art Students League under John Sloan, who not only influenced his artistic style but also provided the young artist with exposure to leftist ideologies. In 1934, Ribak’s work was presented at the Venice Biennale.
He married the painter Beatrice Mandelman in 1942, and was drafted into the army that same year. Due to persistent asthma, Ribak was released two years later, and Ribak and Mandelman moved to Taos, New Mexico in hopes of finding a more suitable climate for Ribak’s health. The couple would remain in Taos for the rest of their lives.
The young couple soon became the center of a group of artists known as the Taos Moderns, which included Emil Bisttram, Edward Corbett, Agnes Martin, Oli Sihvonen, and Clay Spohn. Mandelman and Ribak opened the Taos Valley Art School, using the income they made from teaching classes to support their art making. In the late 1940s, while his wife was studying in Paris, Ribak purchased a sprawling adobe house for himself and Mandelman. They created an exhibition space in their living room, which they called Gallery Ribak. The couple organized mini-exhibitions there, including a three-person show for themselves and their friend Agnes Martin in 1955. The captivating landscape and diverse cultures of the region help transform Ribak’s style from New York-inspired Social Realism towards Abstraction.
During his lifetime, he exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Jewish Museum, New York, on multiple occasions. Today, his works are included in public collections across the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.