The Showstopping Glamour of Strosberg Mandel’s Bejeweled Portraiture

Written by John Fry

Painter Serge Strosberg is acclaimed for his ability to capture the character and essence of the subjects in his work. While many fine artists prefer to work alone, Strosberg has found a profound and invaluable symbiotic partnership with David Mandel, whose extensive collection of fine vintage costume jewelry brings a new depth to Serge Strosberg’s intimate portraiture.

The Collaborative work of StrosbergMandel can be seen November 29ththrough December 4th, 2016 at both Scope Miami and CONTEXT Miami, along with Studio 26 from New York City at Satellite Art Fair showing Strosberg’s provocative feminist works from the “GirlsGirlsGirls” series.


StrosbergMandel, Grade A installation, Courtesy StrosbergMandel

In Strosberg Mandel’s “You Bet Your Ass They’re Real” the iconic Elizabeth Taylor is displayed with the crown of her skull seemingly removed to reveal a brain exploding with Swarovski crystals and vintage jewels. Strosberg Mandel, influenced by the work of Flemish painters such as Jan Van Eyck and Hans Holbein, where the representation of beauty and wealth hides a dark spiritual reality and the fragility of life, and with an Iconic beauty such as Elizabeth Taylor known to have such a complex and multifaceted nature the duo has found a remarkable subject, a woman who led a jet-set lifestyle, appeared in over Fifty films with numerous television appearances, had eight marriages to seven different men, yet found time and energy enough to co-found the American Foundation for AIDS Research, who also owned one of the most prestigious jewelry collections in the world.

Strosberg paints Ms. Taylor with a wistful pensive expression, a burst of jewels coming from her brain alluding to the creative process and machinations of her mind. Elizabeth Taylor was more than just a pretty face and a stunning figure; she was an artist, a businesswoman, and a humanitarian. StrosbergMandel glamourizes Taylor’s dazzling appearance as well as her brilliant mind, humanity, and business sense. The title references an occasion when a fan asked Liz Taylor, “Is this real costume jewelry?” Yes, the jewels are real, but they’re not the most valuable thing Liz Taylor had in abundance.

Also amongst this collection of Collaborative works by  Strosberg Mandel is a portrait of the late Artist Prince, known for his musical innovation, immense musical skill, and one of the most influential artists of the rock and roll era. In this portrait “#Sexy” Prince stares at the viewer with a tilt of his head flirtatiously, in a purple suit embroidered with gems and beads in an intricate floral pattern. StrosbergMadel capture both the late singer of “Purple Rain”’s fabulous signature style and amorous personality.  Such a stunning tribute to the legendary Artist will make art enthusiasts and Prince Fans feel dearly beloved and gather to celebrate the brilliance of Prince’s life.


StrobergMandel, Reef (detail), Courtesy StrosbergMandel

As in life we are in death, Strosberg Mandel play with the dichotomy between the two, the beautiful and the abject, in an installation piece “Grade A Mirror” and “Grade A Half Moon” painted on a mirror frame with the glass removed, a circular canvas of “Grade A Mirror” portrays a piece of raw meat, appearing to be roughly carved up, with many jagged and uneven surfaces, the painted carcass adorned with Swarovski crystals, an air of opulence conflicting with humbleness of the subject matter, the torn and jagged meat. “Grade A Mirror” itself is installed over a table in the shape of a half circle, or “Half Moon”, and thus “Grade A Half Moon”, a table covered with bedazzled beef pieces that appear to have been carved off from “Grade A Mirror” giving a direct sense of correlation. A vibrant turquoise background brings out the meat’s vivid hues of reds and pinks with the jewels empathizing the meat’s rich texture, giving this dead meat new life.


StrosbergMandel, You Bet Your Ass They’re Real, oil, enamel, vintage Swarovski stones, mixed media on panel, 60 x 50 inches, Courtesy StrosbergMandel



StrosbergMandel, Grade A installation (detail), Courtesy StrosbergMandel

StrosbergMandel, #Sexy, Courtesy StrosbergMandel

StrosbergMandel, #Sexy, Courtesy StrosbergMandel

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