03344057 Robert Mangold, 1977, photograph by Doris Quarella.
Robert Mangold, like those artists of his generation such as Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Brice Marden and Robert Ryman, repudiated the tenets of Abstract Expressionism and sought to express himself in a manner which emphasized abstraction, coolness and materiality. Labeled as the Minimalists, these artists in the 1960s championed the reduction of form and the essential nature of the materials. Like his painting counterparts, Mangold focused on the monochrome as his primary method of painting. However, unlike Marden or Ryman, Mangold was also interested in the perceptual reception of the most elemental geometrical shapes: the circle, triangle and square by complex combination of color, line and shape.
In the 1970s, Mangold continued his exploration of geometry and proportion. "The vocabulary of shape and line Mangold was elaborating in the paintings of the 1970s made spatial discernment a subtle, engrossing perceptual exercise that is distinctively his own." (N. Princethal, Robert Mangold, London, 2000, pp. 204-207). This Untitled work from 1974 exhibits the quintessential traits of Mangold's endeavor. In a square imbued with a gold ochre color. Mangold speaks of his particular choice of colors: "They are mostly mixtures, as I seldom use color full strength and straight from the bottle. They are modified in one way or another so that they have a muted feel. One of the elements that I work with in the painting is line, and for the line to be seen and to have equal strength in the work there is a kind of balance that you have to have between the color and the line." (R. Mangold quoted in op. cit., p. 69).
In Untitled, there exist two intersecting lines: a white diagonal one that evenly "dissects" the painting into two equal triangular shapes and two black lines which create a triangular form from the right edge. The spatial complexity bourn from these simplest of lines is dazzling. "Mangold is not only questioning the way we see but gracefully manipulating form to new endsby making his open frames both image and field, at least by implication, he has remained consistent in his adherence to the all-over image. But in this manipulation, he has proven that his approach is eminently flexible, and singularly open-ended. They are paintings of spaces and silences. " (D. Waldman, Robert Mangold, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1971, n.p.).