Bea Mandelman: Collage
“I want my paintings to have not pattern but order and structure underneath – not on top- not what you see hidden – covered – but felt” - Beatrice Mandelman
“Tensions exacerbate in Mandelman's work because of her desire to belong to the fashionable international realm of the vanguard. … Not just propaganda, this art manifests or symbolizes a range of feelings and is not simply a vehicle for persuasion” – Robert Hobbs
Much of the art created during the 1960s and mid-1970s aimed to present a social critique in the tradition of the Social Realists of the 1930s. The Vietnam War spawned dissent among artists advocating social change. Many of Beatrice Mandelman’s contemporaries, often émigrés and Jewish, were actively political as a result of the devastating experiences that they had witnessed during World War II. Mandelman was the daughter of first generation Jewish émigrés. The work of the Social Realists, followed closely by the work of the Abstract Expressionists, was heavily influenced by social issues and related political controversy.
Beatrice Mandelman was something of an anomaly within this die-hard activism. She was not as much committed to any specific social issues of the liberals and the left wing as she was energized by the passion and energy of the circle of artists and intelligentsia that espoused them. During her life with Louis Ribak in New York and New Mexico, Mandelman followed an art world closely tied to high fashion and glamour. The subject matter and draftsmanship of Social Realism that she had mastered years before gave way to a new vocabulary centered on color and line.
The titles of Mandelman's work during this period reveal an effort to be part of the political fervor around her, even as Mandelman was immersed in line, shape and color - conveying her playful eye to the viewer. The effect of this work as political statement is minimal; rather the pieces are lyrical and poetic. It seems evident that Mandelman was influenced by the palette of Henri Matisse: the mix of complexity (form) and simplicity (color) yield a playfulness and freedom in complete contrast to the politicized title of each piece. The work may be intended to translate the viewer from worry and confusion to a place of intellectual calm. “Collage," Mandelman once said, "best represents my concern for the stressful, shifting, transitory nature of human experience."