Robert Ryman, Painter of Poetic Minimalist Canvases, Has Died at 88 -ARTnews

Robert Ryman at a reception held for recipients of the 17th ‘Praemium Imperiale’ Awards at the Tokyo National Museum in 2005.


Robert Ryman, whose understated paintings offer perplexing perceptual experiments with the color white, has died. He was 88, according to Pace Gallery, which announced the news on Saturday night. A cause of death was not immediately provided.

Ryman is among the most famous artists associated with the Minimalist movement of the late 1960s and early ’70s, and is well regarded for his seemingly simple painterly gestures, which often feature various strokes, all of them rendered in slightly varying white tones, applied on top of one another. His canvases play with how the eye perceives color and the formal properties of paint itself.

The paintings’ koanic quality has often been addressed by critics such as Carter Ratcliff, who wrote of Ryman’s canvases in these pages in 1971, “They are blank, but they are not empty; they are all white, but they are not without images.”

Ryman’s work was the subject of a touring retrospective that began at the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2001 and later traveled to the Kunstmuseum Bonn. A survey of his work was also held in 2015 at the Dia Art Foundation in New York. His art appeared three editions of Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and three editions of the Whitney Biennial in New York, as well as the 1976 Venice Biennale.

A full obituary will follow. This post will be updated.

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