London—Pace Gallery is honoured to present an exhibition of Robert Mangold at 6 Burlington Gardens, the artist's first exhibition with the gallery in London. On view from 12 April to 22 May 2021, Robert Mangold: A Survey 1981–2008—the artist's first solo show in the UK in 12 years—will feature significant paintings spanning three decades, tracing pictorial developments by one of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Showcasing Mangold's lifelong balancing of shape, line, and colour, the paintings on view epitomise the conceptual and aesthetic rigour of his six-decade career, while also demonstrating an enduring will to challenge definitions of painting. Spanning nearly 30 years of work, this survey of Mangold's mid-career allows viewers to identify themes as they develop, finding prescience in the earlier works. The exhibition has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of several paintings from the private collection of the late Dr. Walter de Logi, a long-time collector and champion of Mangold's work.
In the 1960s Mangold emerged as one of the most original and incisive voices shaping the discourse on painting in America. From the outset, Mangold's works explored the most elemental components of his art form, in doing so examining the very nature of painting. Integral to Mangold's thinking has always been a questioning of the primacy of the rectangular format. Beginning with the Walls and Areas of the mid-sixties, and right on through to today, Mangold's engagement with shaped canvases has allowed him to push his work beyond the conventions of traditional painting.
Bringing together vibrant but subtle colour combinations, hand-drawn lines, and an innovative use of form, Mangold's 'x' or '+' paintings, such as X Within X (Red-Orange) (1981) and Aqua/Green/Orange + Painting (1983), exist somewhere between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional; these works simultaneously insist on the 'flatness' of painting as well as its objecthood. Mangold's works always emphasise the relationship between the canvas and the wall and with the 'x' and '+' paintings that relationship becomes even more apparent. These ideas are expanded in paintings such as Green Ellipse/Gray Frame (1989) in which Mangold juxtaposes the active painted surface with the lines created by the unusual configuration of the diptych. Further, in 'Column Structure' works of 2006, Mangold continues to take a sculptural approach to his painting by joining multiple panels and tying them together with the elegant curl of a pencil line.
Joining panels to create expansive canvases recurs throughout Mangold's practice. Curved Plane/Figure VIII, Study (1995) and Red/White Zone Painting II (1996) are each made up of three panels with a curved top edge. In the latter, Mangold paints over the canvas joins to create an incongruity between the painted image and the structure of the support. Mangold further subverts expectations by drawing sweeping intersecting ellipses over the textured red panels. The ovals perfectly align but are separated by the painting's central white panel. In this way, Mangold explores ideas of perception and narrative by forcing the viewer to 'complete' the work by mentally connecting the lines.
In its evolution, Mangold's work never becomes predictably linear or dogmatic. Rather, it remains open to the surprising twists and turns of his intuition and curiosity, often referring to his earlier works and re-examining previously raised questions. Ring Image C (2008), with its turquoise surface and elegantly undulating lines, is yet a step further in Mangold's exploration of shaped canvases. Like his 'x' and '+' paintings, Mangold plays with positive and negative space: the painting itself surrounds the void inherent to the ring form, incorporating the wall into the work. For Mangold, the 'Ring' series is a way of 'setting up problems for the viewer', he is asking 'how do you visually deal with a ring when what's usually in the centre of a painting is very important?' In other words, Mangold is interested in finding ways to confound expectations and in doing so encourages viewers to engage with his paintings in new ways.
Robert Mangold (b. 1937, North Tonawanda, New York) has, since the 1950s, explored line and colour on supports ranging in shape, size, and dimension. Committed to abstraction as a means of communication, he has worked within a consistent geometric vocabulary to produce a varied body of paintings and works on paper. His career has developed through an evolution of techniques for the application of paint onto his chosen surface—first plywood and Masonite, and later, beginning in 1968, stretched canvas. Moving away from the conventions of paintings, he introduced shaped canvases, working with symmetrical and asymmetrical forms as well as curvilinear edges. For his early shaped and multi-panel constructions, Mangold airbrushed oil-based pigments in gradations of colour, and later used a roller before ultimately adopting a brush to apply acrylic in subtle hues that near transparency. He remained intrigued by colour as much as structure, and his relationship with it shifted throughout the decades. His initial palette, inspired by industrial objects—file cabinets, brick walls, and trucks—transitioned toward colours that evoke mood: warm ochres, light blues, deep oranges, olive greens, and other hues. Mangold's mostly monochromatic compositions show an attention to gesture with the addition of hand-drawn pencil lines that curve across the planes of colour. Mangold's European exhibitions include a retrospective (works from 1964–1993) presented in Schaffhausen in 1993, and (works from 1983–1997) in Wiesbaden in 1998.
Mangold's European exhibitions include Robert Mangold: Paintings 1964–1982, at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, (21 October–12 December 1982) and Robert Mangold: Paintings: 1964–1987, at the Hallen für neue Kunst, Schaffhausen, Switzerland (2 May–31 October 1987). These shows were followed by the retrospective Robert Mangold: Painting as Wall, Werke von 1964 bis 1993, presented at Hallen für neue Kunst, Schaffhausen Switzerland, in 1993, before travelling to RENN Espace d'Art Contemporain, Paris (27 November 1993–26 June1994); Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Muenster (12 February–12 April 1995); and Culturgest C.G.D., Lisbon, Portugal (15 September–22 October 1995). Additionally, Robert Mangold: Paintings and Drawings 1984–1997 was presented at Museum Wiesbaden (18 October 1998–21 February 1999), travelling to Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland (16 June–22 August 1999). More recently, Robert Mangold/Gaugin was presented at Musée d'Orsay, Paris (30 May–3 September 2006) and Robert Mangold X, Plus and Frame Paintings was presented at Parasol Unit, London, UK (24 February–8 May 2009).
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.