New York

Robert Ryman

Sidney Janis Gallery

After seeing Robert Ryman’s new painting I wanted to find one word that would explain how I felt about them.

I found a quotation in a catalogue of his paintings: “Basically, my work has to do with just making visual art, something that excites me, that excites me personally, then I feel, if that happens, if I feel good about it, that maybe someone else will. If it doesn’t work out that way for me, then I feel it’s a failure.”

The new paintings did not excite me, personally. Am I to conclude that Ryman must consider them failures (assuming that he ever discovers that I feel this way)?

I wonder how much we should expect an artist’s work to change. Once Rothko and Newman found their insignia, they never veered away from it in any drastic way, yet we don’t blame them for it. Is it hypocritical of me to complain that Ryman’s paintings seem all the same to me, and that is what makes them unexciting,

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