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Robert Ryman

Untitled

1958

Artist

Robert Ryman (1930-)

Title

Untitled

Date

1958

Medium

Casein, colored pencil and charcoal pencil on paper

Dimensions

Sheet (Irregular): 9 3/8 × 9 3/8 in. (23.8 × 23.8 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President

Accession number

2002.262

Object Label

Among Robert Ryman’s earliest works are small, delicate paintings such as the 1958 example here, made on inexpensive, ragged-edged paper. Interested in exploring the compositional possibilities of elements frequently used (and naturalized) in more traditional forms of painting, Ryman experimented here with the date and his signature, turning them on their side and enlarging them into prominent graphic motifs that redouble the vertical rectangular thrust of the black shape at left. Ryman has always preferred a square or nearly square format, explaining that it provides the “most perfect space,” and downplays the need for “spatial composition.”