The Errand of the Eye: Photographs by Rose Mandel

By Susan Ehrens and Julian Cox

Following her flight from Europe in 1942, Rose Mandel lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and, for more than two decades, created a rich and original body of photographs. A refined sense of craft and a deeply personal vision placed Mandel in the heart of some of the most vital artistic currents of her time, which still resonate today. Though her photographs have appeared in significant exhibitions and publications and received critical acclaim from contemporaries including Minor White and Ansel Adams, her work as a whole remains largely unknown.

The Errand of the Eye: Photographs by Rose Mandel offers the first full assessment of a dynamic artist who extended the expressive potential of photography during an exceptionally innovative period in Bay Area art. Featuring more than seventy-two intimate landscapes, nature studies, and portraits ranging in style from surreal to abstract, The Errand of the Eye illuminates the full breadth and depth of Mandel’s achievement, and establishes her place in the history of modernist photography.


Susan Ehrens is an art historian and independent photography curator and consultant. She has authored publications including A Poetic Vision: The Photographs of Anne Brigman (1995), has curated photography exhibitions for major American museums, and co-curated exhibitions including Photographs by Rose Mandel at the Art Institute of Chicago (1992–1993) and The Photography of Imogen Cunningham: A Centennial Selection (1983–1986). Ehrens was a recipient of the 2012 Edward Weston Family Research Fellowship from the Center for Creative Photography.

Julian Cox is the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s founding curator of photography and chief administrative curator. His prior curatorial appointments include positions at the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television (now the National Media Museum), Bradford, England; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. He coauthored, with Colin Ford, the critically acclaimed publication Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs (2003). Other notable publications include Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection (2012).

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