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Robert Ryman

Large-small, thick-thin, light reflecting, light absorbing

About Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman (b. 1930, Nashville, TN; d. 2019, New York) attended the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute and the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. After enlisting in the United States Army (1950–52), he moved to New York to play jazz. In 1953 he took a temporary job—where he would ultimately work for seven years—as a guard at The Museum of Modern Art. Soon after, he would decide to devote his career towards painting. For over five decades, Robert Ryman engaged in an ongoing experiment with painting. He sought to modify his approach, resisted the comfort of tendency, and maintained the freshness of uncharted territory. From each experience Ryman gleaned the variables for a revised proposition and the impetus to propel him towards his next move. Since Ryman’s first solo exhibition in 1967, his work has been the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions in 12 countries.

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Robert Ryman is always testing things. In 1953, while working as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art, he bought some paint and brushes because he “wanted to see what the paint would do, how the brushes would work. That was the first step. I just played around. I had nothing really in mind to paint. I was just finding out how the paint worked, colors, thick and thin, the brushes, surfaces.” Not much has changed since that first foray nearly 60 years ago. Despite all that he has done, or perhaps b