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Artists Albert Pinkham Ryder
Albert Pinkham Ryder Photo

Albert Pinkham Ryder

American Painter

Movements and Styles: Romanticism, Tonalism, Symbolism

Born: March 20, 1847 - New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

Died: March 28, 1917 - New York City, New York, USA

Albert Pinkham Ryder Timeline

Quotes

"The artist needs but a roof, a crust of bread and his easel, and all the rest God gives him in abundance. He must live to paint and not paint to live."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"Imitation is not inspiration, and inspiration only can give birth to a work of art. The least of a man's original emanation is better than the best of a borrowed thought."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"No two visions are alike. Those who reach the heights have all toiled up the steep mountains by a different route. To each has been revealed a different panorama."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"When my father placed the box of colors and brushes in my hands and I stood before my easel with its square of stretched canvas, I realized that I had in my possession the wherewith to create a masterpiece that would live throughout the coming ages. The great masters had no more!"
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"The artist should strive to express his thought and not the surface of it."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"The artist should fear to become the slave of detail."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"Modern art must strike out from the old. The new is not revealed to those whose eyes are fastened in worship upon the old."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"The artist has only to remain true to his dream and it will possess his work in such a manner that it will resemble the work of no other man."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"A rain-tight roof, frugal living, a box of colors, and God's sunlight through clear windows keep the soul attuned and the body vigorous for one's daily work."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"Have you ever seen an inch worm crawl up a leaf or twig, and then clinging to the very end, revolve in the air, feeling for something to reach...? That's like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have a footing."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"No two visions are alike. Those who reach the heights have all toiled up the steep mountains by a different route. To each has been revealed a different panorama."
Albert Pinkham Ryder

"What avails a storm cloud accurate in form and color if the storm is not therein?"

Synopsis

Albert Pinkham Ryder was the only American painter whose work was hung in the same gallery as the honoured European masters of the modern, C├ęzanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Manet, at the landmark 1913 Armory Show in New York, the exhibition that virtually defined modern in art and introduced the term avant-garde into the way we talk about art. Yet Ryder's approach to his own work was deeply personal, inventive, idiosyncratic, obsessive, and disregarding of "isms." As an intuitive extender of American Romanticism's reach, Ryder's interest in form and tone as means to evoke feelings and moods drew him towards abstract fields of dense but muted color. His paintings are always pictures of something but their abstract qualities also deeply appealed to the modernist interest in surface and the non-pictorial. For Ryder himself, the paintings of eerie light flooding scenes of other-worldly strangeness were vehicles for transporting himself and the viewer to somewhere beyond everyday rationality. Today many of Ryder's canvases and panels have deteriorated and the gradual sinking of his illuminating vision back into literal obscurity is one of the great ironies of modern art.

Key Ideas

One of Ryder's most notable artistic heirs, American abstract painter Bill Jensen, has said of his own work that it seeks to "put people in touch with areas of their psyche they're not normally aware of. ... If you can bring people in touch with that for just a second, then you have a different way of looking at the world." This perfectly captures Ryder's influence on many artists, including Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock, who saw the importance of Ryder's different way of looking at the world and were deeply affected by it.
Ryder's characteristic method was to empty out unnecessary detail from the spaces he was painting and replace them with layers of moody light and color that tended towards abstractionism, but he never abandoned the representational. So, Ryder's paintings are always pictures of something but he showed later artists how this "something" could include the seeping of other-worldly feelings through the materiality of the visible world.
Ryder's single-mindedness, modest lifestyle, shyness, and sometimes eccentric behavior, all contributed to the myth of his being a recluse. In fact, he had a small circle of devoted friends, who loved him for his gentleness and imagination, and he valued these friendships and the correspondence in which they engaged, not least because they helped him deal with life's practicalities, in which he was temperamentally uninterested.
Ryder could not draw well, in a conventionally technical sense, and a slight impairment of his sight since a childhood illness, though its influence on his work is sometimes exaggerated, made him more interested in tonal effects than detail. His moonlit and marine subjects in particular, such as small boats being tossed at sea, benefit from the resulting evocation of atmosphere.
Ryder's other-worldliness, which was a personal characteristic as well as a feature of his art, was not that of a mystic. Instead, Ryder believed that painting in its material effects could create deep experiences of contemplation, imaginative arousal, and absorption. This belief is detectable in the work of later artists such as Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, on whom Ryder was not a direct influence but whose work inherited an American painterly interest in sublime surfaces to which Ryder undoubtedly contributed.
Though not consciously an adherent to Romanticism or Tonalism, Ryder can be understood as instinctively and temperamentally drawn to their principles and was an inspiration for later Abstract Expressionists. He also had several Symbolist friends who influenced his own ideas.

Biography

Albert Pinkham Ryder Photo

Childhood

Albert Pinkham Ryder was born in 1847 in New Bedford, a growing port in Massachusetts then known for its role in the whaling industry. Both his parental ancestors were of old Cape Cod families, and it is presumed that many in the family had been sailors. Albert, the youngest of four sons, began attending a public grammar school for boys, but had to quit due to poor eyesight resulting from a vaccination that went wrong. This visual impairment was never completely healed, and Ryder may have perceived colors and depth in a slightly altered way, contributing to his distinctive style.

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Albert Pinkham Ryder Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Albert Pinkham Ryder
Interactive chart with Albert Pinkham Ryder's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Jean-Baptiste-Camille CorotJean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Personal Contacts

Julian Alden Weir
Daniel Cottier

Movements

The Barbizon SchoolThe Barbizon School
Dutch Hague School
RomanticismRomanticism

Influences on Artist
Albert Pinkham Ryder
Albert Pinkham Ryder
Years Worked: 1867 - 1910
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Marsden HartleyMarsden Hartley
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Ralph Blakelock
Arthur B. DaviesArthur B. Davies
Rockwell Kent

Personal Contacts

Kenneth Hayes Miller

Movements

Modernism and Modern ArtModernism and Modern Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Daniel Xavier Fleming

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Daniel Xavier Fleming
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