Since the beginning of his career, in the 1950s, Robert Ryman has pragmatically tested the means of painting, deploying a variety of supports and an equally catholic range of utensils and paints. He has applied pigment directly onto gallery architecture, moved canvas fasteners from the rear of a painting to the front, and installed his works so they project outward at right angles from the wall. In all of these experiments, Ryman checks action and consequencewhich is to say, what one material will do to another: what force it exerts, what response it elicits, what value it suggests, and what aesthetic it submits for consideration. Indeed, such cause-and-effect relationshipsbetween subject and material, material and physical worldare constitutive of Ryman’s project.
With six small square paintings from 2010 and 2011 (all untitled), and a ten-panel painting from
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
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.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.