Untitled Study


Oil and pencil on cardboard

26 x 26 cm

A layer of white paint covers almost the whole surface of a square cardboard, except for a few bits on the borders. A black pencil-made stain pierces the composition slightly obliquely, giving the whole work a subtly swinging rhythm. The number 58 stands out in bright red, indicating the date when the painting was created.

Created at the start of American artist Robert Ryman's career, Untitled plays with the different aspects of painting: the medium, the paint, the pencil and even the date are treated as subjects. The square is both the artist's signature format—he mostly paints on square canvases—and the organizing principle of the work. The subtle play with superimpositions announces the overlays that the artist will produce later in the 1960s.

Held in the Pinault Collection, Robert Ryman's Untitled Study was first shown in 2006 at the Where Are We Going? exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, in Venice.