Robert Ryman at Inverleith House

27 July - 1 October 2006 

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: "Points, 1963", oil on aluminium. 

This exhibition began and ended, as do all at Inverleith House, with the experience of being in a garden. It was this fact in particular which drew the artist Robert Ryman and the exhibition's curator Urs Raussmüller to exhibit here, where Ryman's works could be considered in direct relation to the works of nature.

Unlike many other artists, Ryman is primarily concerned with the possibilities of paint itself and the materials upon which it is applied. Unframed, his paintings which are usually square in format are made on a variety of surfaces; paper, metal and plastic for example, using white pigment. He is not concerned with creating an illusion or telling a story and there is no picture to speak of.

Instead, he works with often readily available materials, to create paintings which change according to how light is reflected from or absorbed by their surfaces and their surroundings. The square format is chosen so that all parts of the painting can have equal importance and white pigment to reduce any distraction which colour might otherwise bring to an appreciation of the materials themselves.

At Inverleith House which is illuminated by natural light from all directions, the light varied from room to room, throughout the day, and with the prevailing weather conditions that produced readings of the work which are potentially ever changing. This exhibition consisted of thirteen paintings, dating from 1963 to the present - the most recent having been painted by the artist directly onto the gallery walls; Untitled (Inverleith), 2006 (6). It was curated by the artist and collector Urs Raussmüller in collaboration with Robert Ryman and it demonstrated the essential qualities which have defined Ryman's art during this period of over forty years.

Born in Nashville, Tennesee, in 1930, Robert Ryman moved to New York in 1952 with the intention of becoming a jazz musician, but began to make paintings whilst working part-time as a guard at The Museum of Modern Art. His first solo exhibition took place in 1967 and following a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, he has exhibited in many major museums worldwide, in recognition of his status as one of the great artists of our time who continues to influence generations of painters.

Urs Raussmüller's collaborations with Ryman for over three decades can be seen through major exhibitions, publications and in the world's largest collection and permanent display of Ryman paintings at the Hallen für neue Kunst, Schaffhausen, Switzerland - installed as with this exhibition, in the presence of the artist.

We wish to thank Robert Ryman and the Raussmüller Collection for the loan of works to this exhibition, which was the artist's first in Scotland and the first to take place in a British public gallery since the 1993 travelling exhibition of the artist's work held at the Tate in London.

Robert Ryman at Inverleith House also marked the twentieth anniversary of the exhibitions programme at Inverleith House which began in August 1986 and we wish to thank everyone who has supported the Gallery during that time.

The exhibition was kindly sponsored by Blackwall Green, insurers of fine art. Inverleith House gratefully acknowledges the support of The Consul General of Switzerland, Project Scotland and the continued support for its exhibitions programme by The Scottish Arts Council.


1.  Untitled Prototype, 1969. Acrylic Polymer on fibreglass, (48.2 x 48.2 cm).

2.  I, 1969. Enamelac on corrugated paper cardboard, (152.5 x 152.5 cm).

3.  Series #15 (White), 2003. Oil and gesso on canvas, (60.9 x 60.9 cm).

4.  Express, 1985. Oil paint and Enamelac on fibreglass with two square   fasteners and black oxide octagonal steel bolts, (273.4 x 120.7 cm). 

5.  Untitled Drawing, 1976. pastel and pencil on plexiglass with 4 Black oxide steel plates and hex bolts, (126 x 126 cm).

6.  Untitled (Inverleith), 2006. Acrylic on vinyl with graphite pencil, (approx. 73 x 152 cm).

7.  Classico 6, 1968. Acrylic polymer on six sheets of watermarked C.M. Fabriano cotton paper, (196.9 x 201.9 cm). 

8.  Points, 1963. Oil paint on aluminium, (152.3 x 152.5 cm). (See above) 

9.  Leader, 1987. Lascaux acrylic Enamelac on fibreglass with aluminium and steel bolts, (101 x 101 cm).

10.  Bent Line Drawing, 1970. Blue ball point on polyester fabric,
(42 x 42 cm).

11.  Versions XI, 1991. Oil paint, graphite pencil and ink on fibreglass with wax paper, (48.3 x 43.2 cm). 

12.  Back Talk, c.1964. Oil paint on five stretched, sized linen canvases, (32.4 x 32.4 cm).

13.  Untitled, Standard (varnished), 1967. Enamel on cold rolled steel plate, (121.9 x 121.9 cm). (See below)


Urs Raussmüller: Ryman Paintings and Ryman Exhibitions is available at the special exhibition price of £15.00. The catalogue of this exhibition Robert Ryman at Inverleith House containing documentary photographs and commissioned essays is now also available.


Inverleith House presented 'Robert Ryman and Urs Raussmüller in conversation' on the East Lawn outside Inverleith House. BSL interpreted.

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.  

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.  

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.  

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.  

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.  

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: installation view, "Robert Ryman at Inverleith House", 2006.

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman: "Versions XI, 1991", oil, graphite and ink on fibreglass with wax paper. 

All works courtesy of the artist and the Raussmuller Collection. 


Designed by David Henderson in 1774 as a family residence, Inverleith House subsequently became the founding home of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, from 1960 to 1984. It has since been described as "Perhaps the most ideal gallery space in Britain" (John McEwen, The Sunday Telegraph), with its abundance of natural light and skyline views overlooking the City of Edinburgh.

'Robert Ryman at Inverleith House' marked the Twentieth anniversary of an exhibitions programme which spans contemporary art and botanical science and has introduced the work of many leading artists to Scotland whilst presenting work by artists based in Scotland on an international stage. It demonstrates the Royal Botanic Garden's belief in the need for art as well as science in our understanding and appreciation of the natural world and in this respect, it is pre-eminent amongst botanic gardens today.

For further information about the exhibitions or events, please ask at the reception desk or contact Inverleith House

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