Robert Ryman: Drawings

Untitled, 1961
Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1961. © 2018 ROBERT RYMAN/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

NEW YORK—Pace Gallery is pleased to present the first comprehensive exhibition of drawings by Robert Ryman. Bringing together over 50 drawings from private collections as well as museums, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Dia Art Foundation, and The Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition spans the broad scope Ryman’s career—from his earliest experimentations with drawing in the 1960s to the last drawing he made in 2000. Robert Ryman: Drawings will be on view from February 23 through March 24, 2018 at 510 West 25th Street. Dieter Schwarz, Director of Museum Winterthur from 1990 – 2017, has contributed a new essay on Ryman’s drawings for the full-color catalogue accompanying the exhibition.

While one of the most important artists of the postwar period and a pioneering figure within the field of abstract painting, Ryman’s drawings, and their profound significance within his practice, have never been examined before in a focused exhibition. Over half of the works in Robert Ryman: Drawings will make their public premiere in this exhibition, and many others have not been on view publicly in decades, such as The Watermark Series (1968)—last presented in the artist’s mid-career retrospective at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1972.

Robert Ryman, Yellow Drawing #4,1963, charcoal, graphite, and pastel on yellow paper, 13″ x 13″ (33 cm x 33 cm) ©2018 ROBERT RYMAN/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

The long-awaited exhibition underscores the wildly experimental approach that Ryman brought to drawing. For Ryman, drawings were not preparatory or dependent on the medium or support; but rather, encompassed an incredibly diverse range of materials and structures. The works in the exhibition see the artist testing out pastels, graphite, charcoal, conté, pencil, ballpoint pen, and enamel on surfaces ranging from Chemex coffee filter paper and plexiglass to anodized aluminum and matte Mylar panel. Working across these different media, Ryman continually interrogates the idea of what constitutes a drawing, while remaining grounded in a consistent investigation of the line, its formal properties and visual effects.

“As with any painting, you do have a surface to put the line on—what is that? How’s the light going to work on it? and so on, so forth. So the approach is very similar to painting, but the focus is on the line.” — Robert Ryman, in Robert Storr, Robert Ryman. London: Tate Gallery and New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1993.

Robert Ryman (b. 1930, Nashville, Tennessee) has eluded traditional classifications throughout his career, instead referring to his practice as “realist” and in doing so, proposing new perspectives on painting and drawing. His work eschews representation, narrative, illusion, and conventional understandings of realism, instead exploring the material and compositional qualities offered by his media. Spanning drawing, painting, and printmaking, Ryman’s practice engages with aesthetic experience, wherein acts of presenting, perceiving, and contemplating are a part of his work as much as his artistic process.


Robert Ryman has been represented by Pace since 1990. The gallery has presented twelve exhibitions dedicated to his work.

Robert Ryman, Stretched Drawng [Red],1963, colored pencil on canvas, 16″ x 15-3/4″ (40.6 cm x 40 cm) ©2018 ROBERT RYMAN/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

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