Courtney J. Martin and Stephen Hoban (Ed.)
Yale & Dia Art Foundation, 2017
This remarkable volume, featuring new photography and original essays by a formidable array of scholars and curators, is the most expansive and thorough investigation of the work of American painter Robert Ryman in over two decades. Arguing that the relationships between his paintings are key to understanding his diverse output, the book offers more faithful reproductions and subtler details of the paintings than have previously been available, and attends closely to the artist’s own strategies of display.
Ryman’s paintings are readily identified by their predominantly achromatic surfaces, but his exploration of the values and effects of white was never limited to paint. His experimentations with canvas, board, paper, aluminum, fiberglass, and Plexiglas have evolved into a material vocabulary as revolutionary as his use of white. The texts featured here reflect on the importance of Ryman’s practice to contemporary art: Robert Storr, curator of Ryman’s 1993 retrospective, places the painter in historical context while Courtney J. Martin, curator of his 2015–16 exhibition at Dia Chelsea, looks at Ryman’s three-dimensional works. Drawings scholar Allegra Pesenti investigates his drawing practice; music historian John Szwed traces the influence of jazz in Ryman’s early works; and artist Charles Gaines asks what, in a Ryman, is real.