Cordy Ryman

  • 12.03.2015 - 07.05.2015|

Caught between sculpture and painting, Ryman’s artwork is characterized by recycled wood, metal, cardboard, scrap metals, acrylic and enamel paints and other found objects. When working with wood, he often keeps the rough jagged edges visible. This creates a very tactile surface which reveals a tight connection to the human hand. Ryman alters the surfaces of his artwork to change the appearance but still allows for the character of the materials to be recognized.

Between materiality and abstraction, his hybrid works constructed from recycled materials play as underlying supports for paintings, made of a large variety of industrial paints including acrylic, spray or fluorescent paints used for signs. Ryman’s practice is also based on appropriation, reworking older works to fit a new configuration in a new space. These painted wood forms have roots in the years of his studies at the School of Visual Arts (New York) when he was in the Maura Sheehan painting class. « That class became an oasis for me » remembers Ryman. « It was in her class and that year, 1990-91, that really started a shift in the way I worked and thought about art. »[1]

Installation artist and sculptor Maura Sheehan works with a wide range of unconventional materials and practice in situ painting. Her « Metaphors » - like Pillars (1979) alternatively painted light blue and pink or Red Jetty (1982) with a red wood beam across the quayside -create a dynamic between the art and its setting. In the same regard, Ryman likes working on hard surfaces because « when I worked on raw canvas, which is soft, I didn’t get that feeling of making an object or ‘thing’.»[2]

Ryman hangs an array of works on a large wall, to observe the relationships they create among themselves : the echoes spread through the repetition of forms, a solid effect of resonance. As rightly noted by Mary Birmingham : « While sonic echoes diminish and gradually fade, the echoes in Ryman’s art seem to grow stronger as they reverberate. »[3]

A good example which effectively illustrates Ryman’s practice is given by Chimera 45 that will be presented by Zurcher Gallery, NY in March. It’s a large site-specific installation with a number of shaped wood battens placed parallel. They are painted white, pink and fluorescent red and closely associated with each other and anchored to the wall in roughly triangular and square formations. Some have a symetrical disposition, others a reflected arrangement, so that by sliding from one side to the other, the eye follows the vibrant color waves breaking and reflecting endlessly in all directions. This effect goes beyond the visual and reaches a physical level, inciting the viewer to move.

Cordy Ryman’s work is impressive no matter the practice he chooses. Let us remember that « monumentality » has nothing to do with « size » but with « proportions ». For example some small works are reminiscent of the architecture of a city seen at the distance of a satellite gravitating around the Earth. Cordy’s work is decorative like Matisse’s work is, which is shown when he adapted the 3 panels of the Dance to the wall of the big hall of Dr Barnes’mansion in Merion (Pennsylvania). When dealing with the architectural layout, Cordy Ryman reaches successfully to the architecture of color. In 2014, he received a proposal to work on a book of poems « Le J »by Michel Butor - the author of La Modification (1957), also a representative of the French « Nouveau Roman ». Using the texts Cordy built, painted and recreated the books as functional sculpture. More recently Cordy Ryman collaborated with the jewelry Designer Alexis Bittar and created a group of paintings using Lucite castoffs from Alexis Bittar’s workshop. One of which was prominently presented along with Bittar’s collection during “A celebration of Alexis Bittar’s 25th anniversary working with LuciteLux®” fashion week 2015.

Cordy Ryman (born 1971, New York City)

Cordy Ryman received his BFA from the School of Visual Fine Arts in 1997.
His work has been exhibited at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, NY; Visual Arts Center, New Jersey, NJ; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY; The Barbara Walters Gallery, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY and Esbjerg Museum of Modern Art, Esbjerg, Denmark.

Gallery exhibitions include Dodge Gallery, New York, NY; DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY; Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY; Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL; Gallery Diet, Miami, FL; Stalke Galleri, Kirke Saaby, Denmark; Thomas Rehbein Galerie, Koln, Germany; and Loyal, Stockholm, Sweden.

He was the recipient of the Helen Foster Barnett Prize from the National Academy Museum. Rymanʼs work has been reviewed in Artforum, The New York Times, Art in America, The Brooklyn Rail, Frieze, BOMB Magazine, and Time Out NY, among others.

His work is in the collection of the Microsoft Art Collection, Pizzuti Collection, Raussmuller Collection, Rubell Family Collection, The Speyer Family Collection, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami. In 2013, he installed a large public commission at Michigan State University and in 2014, he received a Percent for Art Public commission. In 2014, Ryman exhibited at the Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY; University of Springfield Illinois Galleries, Springfield, IL; and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX.

Complete Resume


Cordy Ryman "Chimera 45" at ZÜRCHER GALLERY from James Kalm on Vimeo.

Cordy Ryman at Galerie Zürcher, April 2015 from Gorky's Granddaughter on Vimeo.