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Exhibition Walkthrough: Laura Hoptman and Daniel Terna on Stéphane Mandelbaum

Join The Drawing Center's Executive Director, Laura Hoptman, and artist Daniel Terna for a walkthrough of Stéphane Mandelbaum.

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A precocious and skillful draftsman, Stéphane Mandelbaum used his artistry to probe the depths of his own persona by conjuring some of the darkest visages of the twentieth century in Europe. His drawings are inhabited by figures from his nightmares like the German Nazis Joseph Goebbels and Ernst Röhm, as well as those from his fantasies like Arthur Rimbaud and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Raised in a Jewish household impacted by the Holocaust, Mandelbaum’s subjects are often Jewish figures, and his pages are filled with words in Yiddish, a language that the artist had taught to himself. The presence of the Hebrew alphabet juxtaposed with images of Nazis and underworld characters give his drawings a patina of menace and even violence, which was tragically borne out by the artist’s assassination by a criminal syndicate in 1986 at age twenty-five. Mandelbaum’s sensational end is a coda to an artistic life lived on the edges of society.

A grandson of survivors, Mandelbaum made a conscious choice to grapple with the weight of the Shoah by aggressively appropriating images of Nazis, boldly drawing them over life-size and placing them in juxtaposition with snippets of pornography, derisive caricatures, doodles, and random lists. The representation of images that most people would prefer to avoid was an act of identity-building for a young, rebellious artist hoping to shock. But it was also an act of ownership of a history that Mandelbaum refused to allow to be buried.

Daniel Terna (b. Brooklyn, 1987) is a Brooklyn-based artist working in photography and video. Terna’s work focuses on family and inherited trauma, blending autobiographical narratives with a tourist’s approach to exploring sites, be they memorials, cities, personal archives, or the body itself. His work has been exhibited at the St. Ottilien Archabbey, Bavaria, Germany (2023); the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore (2023); Jack Barrett, New York (2022 and 2019); Guertin’s Graphics, Red Hook, NY (2020); LY, Los Angeles (2019); Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York (2018); Baxter St. Camera Club of New York (2015); the BRIC Arts Media Biennial, Brooklyn (2014); and the New Wight Biennial, UCLA, Los Angeles (2014). His work has been screened at the Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles (2020); MoMA PS1's film program in Greater New York, Queens (2016); the New York Film Festival’s Convergence Program (2014), the Austrian Cultural Forum, New York (2012) and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA (2011). Terna is a recipient of fellowships and residencies at The Workshop, New York (2021); the Asylum Arts Small Grant (2019); Asylum Arts’ International Jewish Artist Retreat, Garrison, NY (2018); the New Jewish Cultural Fellowship, Brooklyn (2018); the Cuts and Burns Residency at Outpost Artist Resources, Ridgewood, NY (2013); and the Collaborative Fellowship Program at UnionDocs, Brooklyn (2011). His work has been featured in The New York Times, Apartamento, Pin-Up, and Buffalo Zine, among others.

Major support for Stéphane Mandelbaum is provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation, Alice and Tom Tisch, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous funding is provided by Christie's, Kathy and Dick Fuld, Jill and Peter Kraus, the Director's Circle of The Drawing Center, and an anonymous giver. Additional support is provided by Iris Zurawin Marden, and Harry Tappan Heher and Jean-Edouard van Praet d'Amerloo.