Louis Ribak and his wife moved from New York City to Taos, New Mexico, in 1944 to escape the political pressure he and other artists found themselves subject to due to an era of intense surveillance by the U.S. government of artists deemed a socialist threat. Upon his move to Taos, he was inspired by its landscape, people, and culture. He was not the first artist to be influenced by this environment; Taos had a huge impact on the art of visiting artists, like Georgia O'Keeffe, and those who took up residence there, coming to form what came to be referred to as the "Taos art colony." The first generation of Taos artists in the early 1920s painted the local landscapes and its Native American peoples. The second generation of Taos artists that moved there in the 1940s and 1950s, including Louis Ribak, painted the same subjects but used abstraction and distinguished themselves from the realists of the first generation of artists and are now collectively referred to as the Taos Moderns. Although both generations of artists felt drawn to the landscape and culture, the change from Taos realism to abstraction is due to the experiences the Modernists acquired before moving to the art colony. By looking through the political and social context surrounding Ribak's move to Taos, my examination of his painting explores the way that his shift towards abstraction was the result of his desire to stay under the radar while being watched by the government.
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Liu, Kathy, "Abstract Politics" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 84.