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Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman

American, 1930 - 2019

Before becoming an artist Robert Ryman was a musician. The desire to immerse himself in the jazz scene brought him to New York in the early 1950s, where he spent time in museums and was introduced, for the first time, to painting. In order to give himself a crash course in painting, to spend as much time as possible near it, to look at it and learn from observation, Ryman became a security guard at the museum of Modern Art, where he worked from 1953 to 1960. He was most fascinated by Mark Rothko, whose paintings Ryman liked, he has said, because "There was color, there was form, there was structure, the surface, the light-the nakedness of it." In other words, what interested him about Rothko was the paint and painting itself, without the need to represent something. For Ryman, the means of exploring the painting itself became the two most neutral elements he could identify: the square and white paint.