« "Robert Mangold: Drawings and Works on Paper, 1965-2008" (PaceWildenstein March-April, 2009) is a historical survey exhibition of nearly 100 drawings and works on paper from the artist’s personal archive, most of which have never before been exhibited. This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to examine over four decades of Mangold’s work, and the works on view range from preliminary studies to fully worked drawings and paintings on paper. Colored pencil diagrams made in preparation for the Wall paintings from the 1960s and the distorted circle and square compositions from 1972-74 as well as studies for the X, Plus, and Frame series from the 1980s, Irregular Areas (1985-87), Tilted Ellipses (1990), the complete Attic Series I–XVIII (1990-91), Plane/Figures, Curved Plane/Figures and Zones from the 1990s, Curled Figures (2000-02), Columns (2002-06) and Column Structures (2006-08), and his most recent series Ring Images (2007-present) highlight the artist’s cyclical and self-referential vocabulary. When viewing the drawings side by side it becomes apparent that Mangold’s early works inform his late works and vise versa. After visiting the artist’s upstate studio and observing a group of drawings pinned directly to the wall in no specific chronological order, Robert Storr wrote, “[it is] as if the readily apparent themes and variations Mangold has worked with over the years were suddenly allowed to interrupt and intersect with each other like overlapping components of a larger orchestral work.”
Robert Mangold. Column Structure Paintings 2007, catalogue PaceWildenstein Gallery, essay by Richard Shiff, 2007.
In 1965, while working on his painting Red Wall, measuring only 2" in depth, Mangold recognized that in order to achieve the “flat frontality” he was striving for his work needed to maintain a direct relationship with the wall, an idea he termed “limited depth”. It was then that Mangold fully embraced paper, recognizing how the thin, flat nature of this medium achieved the desired effect with the wall and allowed his images to be seen instantly, in their entirety.
Working on paper also gave Mangold the freedom to explore material, shape, line and color and to continually reinvent ways in which these components relate to each other. His drawings represent both an individual and collective unit, and as Mangold has stated, he rarely conceives of a single work, choosing instead to approach an idea again and again, with related groups developing.
Robert Mangold strives to find equilibrium between his colorful, monochromatic planes and the hand-drawn figures. He produces studies to scale in an effort to work out any differences between the two until a symbiotic balance is achieved. Storr emphasizes the importance of the hand drawn elements in Mangold’s work: “Mangold is preeminent among those who choose to do it the hard way – by hand. However, he does not fetishize touch in the manner of expressionists and others who make the artist the overt or covert subject of their work by stressing their emotional and physical presence at its creation. Nor does he foreground the difficulty of the task he assigns himself or ever let the exertions it requires show in the final work in order to highlight his virtuosity.” »