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PRINT Summer 1992

Absence Made Visible: Robert Ryman

By 1957, when he was in his later 20s, Robert Ryman had established a distinctive signature mode for his paintings: he limited his format primarily to the square and his palette almost exclusively to white (though the natural color of the supports and, after 1976, of the supports’ fasteners provided counterpoint to the white, and though the whites themselves varied). This self-limitation was a kind of thing that was done in the heyday of Greenbergian theory, when Ad Reinhardt, for example, limited his palette to black, Franz Kline to black and white, and so on. But the decision remains remarkable, as does the fact that Ryman has worked within these limits for more than thirty years, evidently feeling them as expansive and infinitely renewable.

You could say there had been no change or development in his work during that time, and some critics would agree with you.1 But others see a “slow

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