The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The work 'Untitled (Brussels)' by the American artist Robert Ryman consists of 14 white square paintings without a frame, hanging next to each other on the wall. The paintings are all the same size and hang at the same distance from each other. Each painting has two small blue fields at the top and bottom.
Seen from a distance, the sections of 'Untitled (Brussels)' look virtually the same, but close up you can see that the blue boxes are all different. They are part of the background which consists of blue sheets of synthetic material. These were attached to the wall with tape when the work was made and were then painted. When they were taken down from the wall, the tape was removed, resulting in the blue fields. Ryman made this work for an exhibition in Brussels, hence 'Untitled (Brussels)'. Originally there were 15 parts, one of which remained behind in Brussels.
Robert Ryman always painted with white paint. Although he invariably used the same paint, there are still variations in his work because of the different backgrounds which he used such as linen, cardboard, wood, copper and plexiglass. In addition, the way in which the paint is applied varies a great deal, very evenly or like a paste, using thick brushes or actually very thin ones, applied in one or more directions. In his work Ryman concentrated on the question of what painting is. He was not concerned with what he was painting, but with how. Ryman’s motto was simply “painting the paint”. Because of these sorts of views, Ryman’s work is considered to belong to the fundamental school of painting. With regard to the working process he said: “It is almost essential for me that I surprise myself. When I am surprised I know that there is something happening.”
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