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Robert Ryman

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.

Press Release

  • Robert Ryman
    An exhibition of more than 20 of Robert Ryman’s most recent paintings will be on view at PaceWildenstein, 534 West 25th Street, New York City from November 19, 2004 through January 8, 2005. The public is invited to attend a preview of the exhibition on Thursday, November 18 from 6 – 8 p.m. A catalogue with full color reproductions and an essay by Robert Ryman accompanies the exhibition. This is the first time that the artist has ever written about his work. Since the artist’s last exhibition at PaceWildenstein in 2002, Ryman has embarked on a new series of work that focuses on the color white as subject matter and sheds new light on his continuous investigation into composition, scale, and support. After priming the canvas with dark color, Ryman has built up multiple layers of white on top of the ground to create a rich, atmospheric effect. The exhibition includes canvas, linen, and steel paintings that range in size from 10” square to 8’ square. Ryman remarks in his essay, “When I complete each group of paintings, I try to change my approach, as it gives me a new challenge so that I don’t become too comfortable with my painting. It is important that painting always be new for me.” Breaking new ground in subject matter, scale, and composition, the white paintings reveal a remarkable expansion of Ryman’s vocabulary. Robert Ryman (b. 1930, Nashville, TN) studied at the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute and the George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, before enlisting and serving in the United States Army (1950-52). In 1952 Ryman relocated to New York City, where, fifteen years later, he had his first solo exhibition. Since that time, Ryman’s work has been the subject of over 85 solo exhibitions in 11 countries including a 1993-94 international, traveling retrospective jointly organized by the Tate Gallery, London, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, whose venues also included the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Recently in 2000-01, the Haus der Kunst, Munich, organized Robert Ryman Retrospective that later traveled to the Kunstmuseum Bonn. This year the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art organized the first retrospective exhibition of Ryman’s work ever held in Japan. Ryman’s work has been included in Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1972, 1977, 1982), the Venice Biennale (1976, 1978, 1980), the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, New York (1977, 1987, 1995) and the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1988). The recipient of numerous honors, Ryman has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Scholarship (1974), the Skowhegan Medal from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1985), and was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (1994). Ryman’s work can be found in public collections throughout the United States and abroad including: the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Australian National Gallery, Canberra; the Des Moines Art Center; Fundació “la Caixa,” Barcelona; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery, London; the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Ryman currently lives and works in New York City.



Robert Ryman

2004. PaceWildenstein. Paperback

56 pages: 42 color illustrations; 10 ½ x 9 ½ inches