Collections> Browse Robert Mangold

Collections> Browse Robert Mangold

Robert Mangold
Holdings (5)
1 painting, 2 books, 1 internet art, 1 edition prints/proof

Wikipedia About Robert Mangold

essay Robert Mangold, Walker Art Center Collections, 2005

“X marks the spot.” This could be a label for Robert Mangold’s Pink X within X (1980), a painting whose indexical function registers a striking presence on the wall. One may even be moved to see it as a kind of St. Andrew’s Cross, only puzzlingly incomplete. But what kind of painting is it? This is the question Mangold shared with other New York–based artists of his generation. For Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, Minimalism was a way out of painting, with which they had both aligned themselves early on in their careers. Frank Stella’s shaped canvases and Ellsworth Kelly’s multipaneled monochromes incorporated sculpture into painting while severing the allusive relations between the picture and the world. The works of all these artists may be seen as efforts to destabilize what one might call strictures of flatness that had become a kind of rhetorical tyranny of opticality in painting.

While he has never disavowed painting per se, Mangold has always been more interested in the shape of the canvas than the act of painting on it. He acknowledged: “Shape is the first element in my work; I would not say that it is the most important, but everything starts there.”1 In 1980, he began making X and + paintings. These shapes represent perhaps Mangold’s greatest departure from the conventional geometry of painting. As radical as the form in Pink X within X is, the work also unfolds a subtler drama of fixed modules and variations. No complex calculus is needed to analyze the lopsided construction, but it does require some time for a viewer to realize that the pencil-drawn X is a perfect equilateral cross. Though the four rectangular panels are identical, the resulting construction does not constitute another perfect cross, and it is because of this discrepancy between the two overlapping Xs that a kind of optical trick, even pulsation, occurs. Both complementing and obfuscating this construction of proportion, equivalence, and disparity is the color. Whereas the monochromatic fleshy pink undoubtedly gives this painting a sensual quality, color, in Mangold’s words, is “kept somewhat subdued to prevent it from dominating the piece since I want the work to be a total unity of color-line-shape.”2

  1. Robert Mangold, “Interview with Sylvia Plimack Mangold,” in Richard Shiff et al., Robert Mangold (London: Phaidon Press, 2000), 62.

  2. Rosalind Krauss, “Robert Mangold: An Interview,” Artforum 12, no. 6 (March 1974): 37.

Chong, Doryun. “Robert Mangold.” In Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections, edited by Joan Rothfuss and Elizabeth Carpenter. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2005.

© 2005 Walker Art Center