Robert Ryman - Contemporary Art Part II New York Friday, May 13, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Pace Wildenstein, New York; Sale: New York, Sotheby's, Contemporary Art: Part Two, May 16, 2002, Lot 183; Edward Tyler Nahem, New York; Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    Robert Ryman’s development of the monochromatic canvas, a composition to which he has devoted his entire artistic career, has given him a distinguished place in the contemporary art world. Nearly all of Ryman’s canvases, the present lot included, are square in shape, which lends them a deceptive simplicity. Ryman, however, prefers not to be known as a minimalist artist— instead, he calls himself a “realist,” believing that white squares allow him to present his materials in their truest form. The viewer derives his experience not from the image but from relief, as light and shadow create patterns on the surface of the work.

    This interplay of light and dark is created by Ryman’s wide use of materials, which is exemplified in the intricacies of the present lot, Place VI. Ryman paints using expressive brush strokes on varied surfaces such as canvas, metal, fiberglass, gatorboard, and paper. Though he alters his use of mediums for each painting, the central geometric form remains constant. Ryman’s use of weighty, tactile materials and thick paint application allows him to create pieces with complex textured surfaces. Thus, while Ryman’s canvases may initially appear plain, his work displays a nuanced awareness of the interaction of light and surface. Ryman favors simplicity and subtle intricacy over heavyhandedness, a focus which gives him the singular ability to impart a seemingly simple piece with compelling dynamism and varying dimensions.


Place VI

Encaustic and graphite on lana rag paper mounted on linen stretcher over aluminum panel.
24 x 24 x 2 1/8 in. (61 x 61 x 5.4 cm.)

Signed and dated "Ryman 98" lower center.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $146,500

Contemporary Art Part II

13 May 2011
New York