Opening Reception: Stéphane Mandelbaum

Join us for a reception to celebrate the opening of Stéphane Mandelbaum. The first solo exhibition of the artist’s drawings in the United
States, Stéphane Mandelbaum will feature more than fifty works on paper, including sixteen large-scale portraits, and will occupy the entirety of The Drawing Center’s exhibition space.

Ranging from large-scale portraits to small sketches, Stéphane Mandelbaum’s drawings of historic figures, friends, and anonymous characters who populated Brussels’s subcultures are consummate in technique and deeply disturbing in subject matter. A native of Brussels, Mandelbaum made art for ten years, but in that time he created hundreds of drawings. Mandelbaum sought to capture the essence of his subject’s characters with a ballpoint pen, graphite, and color pencil, often adding collaged magazine clippings, scribbles, lists, and text in French, Yiddish, Italian, and German.

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.

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.