Robert Ryman

United States of America  born 1930

Robert Ryman was born on 30 May 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee. He studied at the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in 1948–49 before switching to the George Peabody College for Teachers in order to pursue his love of music. After touring the South from 1950–52 with the Army Reserve Band, Ryman settled in New York where he studied jazz and worked as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Having attempted a few drawing classes, but with little other formal training, Ryman produced his first monochrome abstract paintings in the mid–1950s. His work was exhibited regularly from the late 1960s and included in exhibitions such as Systemic Painting at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1966. During this period, while also experimenting with printmaking and drawing, Ryman developed his paintings thematically and in series, the first of which were the Winsors of 1965. The Standards, painted on metal, followed in 1967, and were shown in his first solo exhibition at Paul Bianchini Gallery, New York, in the same year.

In the 1970s Ryman’s work gained wide recognition and was included in group and solo exhibitions in the United States and internationally. His 1972 Guggenheim exhibition comprised 38 works from 1965–72. Important shows, including several retrospectives, were held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and at the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, in 1974, at the Kunsthalle, Basel, in 1975, at P.S. 1, New York, and at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1977. During this period Ryman also exhibited with John Weber Gallery, New York, and participated in Documenta, Kassel, first in 1972, then again in 1977 and 1979. The exhibition organised from InK. Halle für internationale neue Kunst, Zurich, travelled to the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, in 1980–82, and from 1983 his work was on permanent show at the Hallen für neue Kunst, Schaffhausen. In 1988–89 a solo exhibition was held at the Dia Art Foundation, New York, and works from the period 1958–81 were shown at Espace d’art contemporain, Paris, in 1991. A major retrospective of his work was jointly organised by the Tate Gallery, London, and MoMA, New York, and also toured to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, in 1993–94. From the 1990s Ryman exhibited with The Pace Gallery and PaceWildenstein in New York. The most recent retrospective was in 2000–01 at Haus der Kunst, Munich, and the Kunstmuseum, Bonn. Ryman lives and works in New York.

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Robert Ryman Arena 1977 Purchased 1978 Learn more