The painter Robert Ryman, known for his white–on-white paintings in square formats, has decided to bequeath 21 of his works to the Dia Art Foundation.

They have been exhibited at the Dia:Beacon since 2003. As the New York Times notes, which revealed the news, the museum has become a “place of pilgrimage” for lovers of the work of this minimalist painter. The foundation pays tribute to his paintings by hanging them in large rooms bathed with natural light. “White is the colour that best reacts to light”, explained the artist to Libération in 1999. He has always thought that his works were made to be seen together in a single space. It is only logical therefore that he wanted his paintings to remain in the large rooms of the museum in Beacon.

Robert Ryman

Robert Ryman (b. 1930)
Bridge © Christie’s

The Dia Art Foundation was founded in New York in 1974 by collectors Philippa de Menil and Heiner Friedrich to help contemporary artists realize their visions. In particular, they supported the Land Art movement with their acquisition in 1999 of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), which can be seen at the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The building in Beacon was opened in 2003 and holds works by Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin and Donald Judd.

Robert Ryman’s bequest is of immense value. On 13 May 2015, his canvas Bridge was sold at Christie’s for $20.6 million. Artnet listed him as the fifth most expensive American contemporary artist in the marketplace.

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