Robert Mangold

A Survey 1981–2008

Apr 12 – May 22, 2021

Robert Mangold: A Survey 1981-2008—the artist’s first solo show in the UK in 12 years—features significant paintings spanning three decades, tracing pictorial developments by one of the most esteemed artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Exhibition Details

Robert Mangold
Apr 12 – May 22, 2021

Schedule Your Visit


6 Burlington Gardens

Above: Robert Mangold: A Survey 1981–2008, April 12 – May 22, 2021, Pace Gallery, London © Robert Mangold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Video: Gordon Beswick

Installation view, Robert Mangold: A Survey 1981–2008, April 12 – May 22, 2021, Pace Gallery, London © Robert Mangold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Damian Griffiths

Robert Mangold, Attic Series V, 1990, acrylic and back pencil on canvas, 96" × 10' 8-1/2" (243.8 cm × 326.4 cm)

Showcasing Mangold’s lifelong balancing of shape, line, and color, the paintings on view epitomize the conceptual and aesthetic rigor of his six-decade career, while also demonstrating an enduring will to challenge definitions of painting. Spanning nearly 30 years of work, this survey of Mangold’s mid-career allows viewers to identify themes as they develop, finding prescience in the earlier works. The exhibition has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of several paintings from the private collection of the late Dr. Walter de Logi, a long-time collector and champion of Mangold’s work.

Robert Mangold, Column Structure VI, 2006, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 10' x 6' (304.8 cm x 182.9 cm)

In the 1960s Mangold emerged as one of the most original and incisive voices shaping the discourse on painting in America. From the outset, Mangold’s works explored the most elemental components of his art form, in doing so examining the very nature of painting. Integral to Mangold’s thinking has always been a questioning of the primacy of the rectangular format. Beginning with the Walls and Areas of the mid-sixties, and right on through to today, Mangold’s engagement with shaped canvases has allowed him to push his work beyond the conventions of traditional painting.


Installation view, Robert Mangold: A Survey 1981–2008, April 12 – May 22, 2021, Pace Gallery, London © Robert Mangold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Damian Griffiths

Bringing together vibrant but subtle color combinations, hand-drawn lines, and an innovative use of form, Mangold’s ‘x’ or ‘+’ paintings, such as X Within X (Red-Orange) (1981) and Aqua/Green/Orange + Painting (1983), exist somewhere between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional; these works simultaneously insist on the ‘flatness’ of painting as well as its objecthood. Mangold’s works always emphasize the relationship between the canvas and the wall and with the ‘x’ and ‘+’ paintings that relationship becomes even more apparent.

Robert Mangold, X Within X (Red-Orange), 1981, acrylic and pencil on canvas, 56-1/4" x 77-3/8" x 1-1/2" (142.9 cm x 196.5 cm x 3.8 cm)
Robert Mangold, Aqua/Green/Orange + Painting, 1983, acrylic and black pencil on canvas with aluminum bar, 96-1/4" x 98-1/4" (244.5 cm x 249.6 cm), overall installed
Robert Mangold, Green Ellipse/Gray Frame, 1989, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 69 x 127" (175.3 x 322.6 cm)

These ideas are expanded in paintings such as Green Ellipse/Gray Frame (1989) in which Mangold juxtaposes the active painted surface with the lines created by the unusual configuration of the diptych. Further, in Column Structure works of 2006, Mangold continues to take a sculptural approach to his painting by joining multiple panels and tying them together with the elegant curl of a pencil line.

Robert Mangold, Column Structure III, 2006, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 10' x 6' (304.8 cm x 182.9 cm)
Robert Mangold, Column Structure VII, 2006, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 10' x 5' (304.8 cm x 152.4 cm)
Robert Mangold, Curved Plane/Figure VIII, Study, 1995, acrylic, graphite and black pencil on canvas, 49 x 73-3/4" (124.5 x 187.3 cm)

Joining panels to create expansive canvases recurs throughout Mangold’s practice. Curved Plane/Figure VIII, Study (1995) and Red/White Zone Painting II (1996) are each made up of three panels with a curved top edge. In the latter, Mangold paints over the canvas joins to create an incongruity between the painted image and the structure of the support. Mangold further subverts expectations by drawing sweeping intersecting ellipses over the textured red panels. The ovals perfectly align but are separated by the painting’s central white panel. In this way, Mangold explores ideas of perception and narrative by forcing the viewer to ‘complete’ the work by mentally connecting the lines.

Robert Mangold, Red/White Zone Painting II, 1996, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 90 x 198-1/4" (228.6 x 503.6 cm)
Robert Mangold, Ring Image C, 2008, acrylic, graphite and black pencil on canvas, 96" (243.8 cm) diameter

In its evolution, Mangold’s work never becomes predictably linear or dogmatic. Rather, it remains open to the surprising twists and turns of his intuition and curiosity, often referring to his earlier works and re-examining previously raised questions. Ring Image C (2008), with its turquoise surface and elegantly undulating lines, is yet a step further in Mangold’s exploration of shaped canvases. Like his ‘x’ and ‘+’ paintings, Mangold plays with positive and negative space: the painting itself surrounds the void inherent to the ring form, incorporating the wall into the work. For Mangold, the Ring series is a way of ‘setting up problems for the viewer’, he is asking ‘how do you visually deal with a ring when what’s usually in the center of a painting is very important?’ In other words, Mangold is interested in finding ways to confound expectations and in doing so encourages viewers to engage with his paintings in new ways.

Robert Mangold, Curled Figure XXII (Version 1), 2002, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 36" x 11' 4" (91.4 cm x 345.4 cm), overall 36" x 36" (91.4 cm x 91.4 cm), 4 panels, each
Robert Mangold, Column Painting 17A, 2004, acrylic and black pencil on canvas, 90" x 18-1/8" (228.6 cm x 46 cm)

Robert Mangold

Robert Mangold has, since the 1950s, explored line and color on supports ranging in shape, size, and dimension. Committed to abstraction as a means of communication, he has worked within a consistent geometric vocabulary to produce a varied body of paintings and works on paper. His career has developed through an evolution of techniques for the application of paint onto his chosen surface—first plywood and Masonite, and later, beginning in 1968, stretched canvas. Moving away from the conventions of paintings, he introduced shaped canvases, working with symmetrical and asymmetrical forms as well as curvilinear edges. For his early shaped and multi-panel constructions, Mangold airbrushed oil-based pigments in gradations of color, and later used a roller before ultimately adopting a brush to apply acrylic in subtle hues that near transparency. He remained intrigued by color as much as structure, and his relationship with it shifted throughout the decades. His initial palette, inspired by industrial objects—file cabinets, brick walls, and trucks—transitioned toward colors that evoke mood: warm ochres, light blues, deep oranges, olive greens, and other hues. Mangold’s mostly monochromatic compositions show an attention to gesture with the addition of hand-drawn pencil lines that curve across the planes of color.

Learn More