Robert Ryman

Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Stand in front of a painting by Robert Ryman and try to avoid the question, What am I looking at? You can’t. I tend toward a pragmatic interpretation of his work. His paintings are the true representation of “a square painted white,” and don’t allow the projection of symbols or metaphors. Ryman’s white is pure evidence, the most extreme perceptual experience.

In these recent works Ryman uses his customary materials: white paint, supports of varying depths, aluminum bands of varying sizes. He combines the different textures of these basic elements to create variations of format and of luminosity. In this manner Ryman constructs a true visual synthesis. He determines the supporting structures of his expressive language, eliminates adjectives, and concentrates on combining the elements. He thus avoids the risks of simplification, rarefaction, or evanescence of meaning. This language is

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 1985 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.