Robert Ryman was born May 30, 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee. Ryman studied at the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute and the George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, before serving in the United States Army from 1950 – 1952. In 1952, Ryman relocated to New York where he made his first paintings while working as a security guard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the early 1950s. Ryman was intrigued by the abstract expressionist works of Rothko, de Kooning, Still and Pollock and became curious about the act of painting and began experimenting in 1955. Ryman reduces his paintings to the bare minimum: the square format and white color (he uses an extremely reduced vocabulary) but his work is varied because he changes the scale and the texture. Close to minimal art, his work may be distinguished from it by the importance he gives to the painted surface and to the painter’s touch.
Ryman’s work is shown in a permanent exhibition at the Hallen für neue Kunst in Schaffhausen, installed in 1983. His first solo exhibition was at the Paul Bianchini Gallery in 1967. A traveling exhibition in 1993-1994, organized by the Tate Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York included venues such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. A recipient of numerous honors, Ryman has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Scholarship (1974), the Skowhegan Medal from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1985), and he was elected in 1994 to The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
Robert Ryman currently lives and works in New York City.