Robert Ryman

(b. 1930)

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(1930– ).

Painter and printmaker. His personal variation on minimalism features painterly, expressive brushwork within a format limited to square supports and white paint. Although he occasionally deviates from this approach, for the most part he has honored these restrictions for more than forty years. His subtle variations in hue, texture, scale, along with relationships of edges to brush marks, suffice to create meditations on the traditional concerns of painting and on the conceptual underpinnings of contemporary abstraction. Born in Nashville and almost entirely self-taught as an artist, in 1948 Robert Tracy Ryman entered Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville, about fifty miles to the east. He returned the following academic year to Nashville to study music at the George Peabody College for Teachers (now part of Vanderbilt University). In late 1950 he enlisted in the U.S. Army (he was assigned to a band) and after discharge early in 1952, settled permanently in New York to pursue his desire to become a jazz musician. From his earliest paintings, made in 1953, he concentrated on examining the fundamentals of his craft, soon creating monochrome works that extended abstract expressionism's intuitive gesturalism, while also reacting against its lack of discipline and its psychological content. Characteristic all-white works made his reputation in the mid-1960s. In 1961 Ryman married Lucy Lippard, but they divorced several years later. In 1969 he married abstract painter Merrill Wagner (1935– ). Born in Seattle, in 1957 she received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, before continuing her studies at the Art Students League.

Subjects: Art.

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