New York

Robert Ryman

John Weber Gallery

Probably more than any other paintings, including Ad Reinhardt’s, Robert Ryman’s fulfill Reinhardt’s claim of what paintings should be by saying what they shouldn’t be. In one sense, it is easy to approach Ryman’s paintings in terms of what they are not, because so much that is conventionally present in paintings is absent from his. Perhaps this absence of many conventional elements gives a clue as to why painters, generally speaking, tend to disregard Ryman’s work, and artists who otherwise have no use for painting make his paintings an exception. In the usual sense, there is not much in a Ryman painting, only the straightforward application of white paint to a surface; thus, speaking of them has always been difficult. But if Ryman has severely reduced the terms of painting to what seems a ground zero similarly reached by Malevich and Reinhardt, “ground zero” means not the attainment of

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