there are two opposite ways to evoke Robert Ryman), a figure of abstraction and the current minimalist american, who died February 8 at age 88 at his home in Manhattan. The first is theatrical, French, mocking, cruel as the worldliness. It is called Art , a play written in 1994 by Yasmina Reza, who commented wryly on the beauty of a white board purchased by a collector from paris, croque, through this monochrome blind, the snobbery of the contemporary art at the same time that it conquers the international market. This comedy of the skepticism it received two Molière awards in 1995, has been translated into 35 languages, and today generates 880.000 results on Google.

The second way is French, too, just as passionate, but much more secretive, intuitive, fierce. It was the late Claude Berri (1934-2009), producer, filmmaker and collector, an introvert who had hooked his Robert Ryman in his apartment of the rue de Lille. Quite high on the walls near the windows of the old Paris, left Bank. For as the light plays on the subtle touch of this painter musical, Claude Berri had installed in front, venetian blinds end white veil. The result was amazing: the white boards seemed to move like living matter, were both all similar and all different, such as a collection of shells.

Reference to the art sales, “postwar”, New York Robert Ryman “Untitled”,1962, oil paint, and vinyl on linen plain tense (159.4 x 159 cm) ©2019Robert Ryman /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

These are the seasons that this painter, a minimalist – he refused this membership is too generational, and american was said to be a painter “realistic” – has become the reference for sales of art “postwar” New York and its fans rich, experienced, rather worn on the “blue chip “investments” on the insolences of Damien Hirst or Maurizio Cattelan.

His square table in white, Bridge , 1980, has sold more than 20.6 million of dollars, on may 13, 2005 at Christie’s in New York. Well not much of a socialite, stresses The New York Times , Robert Ryman was an artist in withdrawal from the scene and his demonstrations of increasingly orchestrated by the master dollar.

in The end, a painter dilation with his work, as little obnoxious as his long series of paintings, white squares that have defied the white walls of museums and galleries for decades. These compositions vibrate with their keys and call a true moment of pause to be felt. Claude Berri, silent and tense, gazing at as we look at the sea, the clouds, the miracle of time passing.

Robert Ryman, “Manager”, 1980, oil on linen canvas with four stretchers of metal (82.6 cm x 76.2 cm). ©2019Robert Ryman /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

As it was in other places and other times, the Zurich-born Johann Heinrich Füssli (1741-1825), or the British, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), Robert Ryman was a pure self-taught. This son of the Old South followed no academic formation in arts, is taking the passion for the painting on his return from the army, in the midst of the Korean War, arriving as a young man in New York.

military band stationed in Alabama

He saw his sax player a professional instrument that he had studied at the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville, tn (1948-49), and then at the George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville (1949-50).

Born in Nashville, Tennessee in may 1930, Robert Ryman was committed in 1950 in the army reserve and served his time in the military band stationed in Alabama. Landed in New York after his discharge in 1952, with 240 dollars in his pocket and dreams of a musician of the year, he took lessons for 5 dollars with the jazz pianist, Lennie Tristano. He visited in Candid marveled at the great museums and galleries of Manhattan and received the shock of-the-art single-handed.

in order To better explore this new continent that is painting, he took in 1953 for a job as a guard at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) where it blossomed, then, abstract expressionism via his great painter to the tormented soul, Mark Rothko (1903-1970), immigrant born Marcus Rothkowitz in Dvinsk in distant Latvia. The abstraction suddenly invaded the frame, the exceeded even. Then his eye while nine was confronted with the great masters of modern art, Matisse the first, but also Mondrian and Malevich, and to his countrymen who were then in that employees and who were to become the lords of their time minimalist: his future first wife, Lucy Lippard, artist of fluorescent Dan Flavin, the painter of the soft geometry colorful Robert Mangold and the mathematician of the art, Sol LeWitt. He kept this job for seven years.

But, as early as 1954, he dedicated himself entirely to painting, went to the home of the merchant of colors and ventured to paint him-even that which came from his spirit and his hand. His first monochrome picture is not white since he is called Orange Painting , 1955. At the end of the 1950’s, highlights its historical gallery, the Pace Gallery, he had already reduced greatly the impact of colour, hidden under a white growing up, in his paintings, which were talking about the pictorial surface, the plane of the wall, the architectural space and the light. These four elements have guided all his work painted in which the declination subtle, sensitive, sensual, in its abstraction, is thoroughly fascinating.

Hired as a simple guard

“In painting, everything has to look easy even if it is arduous”, he confided to Robert Ryman in the magazine Art21 . “It is a key part of the painting, it must give the feeling that it has come up”. His first exhibition was at MoMA in 1958, but in the context of an exhibition of the museum staff (in 1993, 40 years after having been hired as a simple guard, he had a retrospective in a major at the same MoMA, a pastoral and american). In the ten years that followed, he painted on aluminium, before experimenting with Plexiglas, canvas, linen, paper and many other materials.

His first solo show took place in 1967 at the Paul Bianchini Gallery in New York. The following year, he had his first exhibition in Europe, at the Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich, then a breeding ground of avant-garde collectors. Hour of glory, he was part of the minimalist artists and design of the exhibition mythical When Attitudes Become Form , the burst of fire Harald Szeemann at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969 (the fondazione Prada in Venice made a thorough reconstitution and highly acclaimed during the Venice Biennale 2013) . His first solo show in the museum date from 1972 at the Guggenheim museum, iconic building of New York. In 1972, he was also selected to the Documenta 5 of Kassel, the great mass of absolute the art born of the aftermath of war, haunted and guilty, in the heart of Germany’s greenest. He returned in 1977 and in 1982, a sort of blessing of the contemporary times and its institutions invading. He also participated in the Whitney Biennial, the biennial of american art in New York, in 1977, 1987 and 1985. Finally, it was of the Venice Biennale of 1976.

“The gray steel shows through; the brown of the corrugated paper shines through; the linen shines through, like cotton : all of this is taken into consideration. This has nothing monochrome”

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman mocked the titles, favored the square to any other format, “which gave to suggest windows, doors, and landscapes”, highlights Roberta Smith, the critic feared the New York Times in his honour on 9 February. When he spoke of his “white tables” in 1971 in ArtForum , Robert Ryman refuted the label of banal monochrome. “No, we can think about it in a superficial way, but there are many colors and shades involved. The media is always used. The gray steel shows through; the brown of the corrugated paper shines through; the linen shines through, like cotton (it appears more white than the paint): all of this is taken into consideration. It has nothing of the monochrome”. The white, ” he explained also, allows other things to become “visible”.

The sanctuary is the minimum Dia Beacon

Robert Ryman lives in 2015 through the donation he made to the DIA Beacon, a former printing plant built in 1929 on the banks of the Hudson, a hundred kilometers North of New York city, which was converted into a temple of minimal art, Carl Andre to Richard Serra, Agnes Martin, François Morellet.

Robert Ryman “Untitled”, 1965, oil on canvas (28.6 cm x 28.6 cm x 3.2 cm). ©2019Robert Ryman /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“What I deeply admire in Ryman, says Alfred Pacquement, former director of the national Museum of modern art, is that, while being forced to a protocol very limited, not to ever turn away, he was able to reconcile without contradicting the radical minimum extreme and a real sensuality of painting. It has also rethought the relationship of the table to the wall according to multiple formulations. Therefore, it is an experimental painting from one end to the other which has marked the last half-century, and of which we have not been able to make the economy when it is necessary to make the balance of abstraction”.

Paris has had the privilege to see in 2018 the works of one of his three sons, the artist Will Ryman (son of his second wife, the artist Merrill Wagner), on the place of the Fountain with the lions and on the lawns of the Parc de La Villette. Monochrome also, but fluorescent and multicolored.