Robert Ryman

Centre Pompidou

Robert Ryman has become a legend in the French art world, and almost a myth. This important retrospective of his work finally allowed us to assess a body of work which has been perceived in France mainly through the theoretical and critical discourse relating to it. But the “muteness” of these canvases and drawings offers the critic few avenues of approach. When Ryman’s reluctance to reveal himself in interviews is also considered, anyone wishing to transform the enigma of his painting into words may feel dismayed.

But if Ryman insists so much on procedure, if he refuses to acknowledge any mystic or religious attitude in the exercise of his work, if he seems to be an artist who conceives the pictorial act in so precise a way as to give it the air of a manifesto, it is nonetheless true that the emotional impact of his work is considerable. He once confided to Achille Bonito Oliva that he

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