Meeting Ad Reinhardt for the first time wasn't very interesting. He was nibbling the ear of a little old lady on the back stirs at Webster Hall during the tail end of a Mad Arts Ball.
Postcards from Ad Reinhardt to Mark Rothko, 196556. Courtesy James E.B. Breslin Research Archive on Mark Rothko, 1940-93, Getty Research Institute, Research Library.
Postcards from Ad Reinhardt to Robert Motherwell, March 2nd, 1954; December 12th, 1954. Courtesy Dedalus Foundation.
Ad Reinhardt and Bridget Riley collaboration for Poor.Old.Tired.Horse, 1966. Courtesy the artist.
Postcard from Ad Reinhardt to Robert Smithson, 1967. Courtesy Robert Smithson Estate.
Heres a speech I made last week in a Michigan museum, last month in a Wisconsin art center, last spring in a California museum and last year in two places in New Jersey. You know anything about New Jersey?
Ad Reinhardt to Joseph Kosuth, March 10, 1967. Ad Reinhardts copy of Julia R. De Forests Short History of Art (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company). His submission to Kosuths exhibition, Fifteen People Submit Their Favorite Book, Lannis Gallery. Courtesy Joseph Kosuth.
If Ad Reinhardt had not made the black paintings would we be here today?
Ad Reinhardt, How to Look at a Spiral, 1946. Courtesy the Ad Reinhardt Foundation.
Ad Reinhardt was my personal gadfly, and he had much to goad, since I was an avid devotee of Abstract Expressionism and a member in good standing of the boys, Philip Pavias term for de Koonings coterie, condemned by Ad as impure.
Dont you find it odd that two very young women did the first serious writing about Reinhardt? My explanation is that he managed to be so far outside the accepted New York School macho man stereotype that he made no gender distinctions, just intellectual and moral distinctions, which is one reason I was drawn to his writing and personality.
Even in the early 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism still dominated the concerns of the contemporary art world, Reinhardt was not without partisans.
Over the course of the 1960s the narratives many artists tell about their creative development take a distinct turn.
One of the most well-worn themes in the Reinhardt literature is the artists unique, if problematic, pertinence to the art of the sixties. Writing late in that decade, Lucy Lippard commented on his peculiar asynchronicity, describing him as a thirties painter in the forties and a sixties painter in the fifties.
In the summer of 1996 I organized an exhibition for the Pace gallery, which represented the estate of the artist at the time. Rita Reinhardt, the artists widow, had long wanted to see an exhibition of the two artists.
In 1967, Agnes Martin left New York City, where she had been living for a decade. She traveled for two years in Canada and the American West before settling on a remote New Mexican mesa, building a house by hand, and living in relative isolation for the remainder of her years.
On the occasion of an exhibition of Agnes Martins work at the Serpentine Gallery in 1993, Irving Sandler interviewed the artist for the popular Talking Art column in the British publication Art Monthly.
As early as 1963, Ad Reinhardt had been flagged as the intellectual pivot of the new art that did, in fact, follow.
Sol LeWitt, Autobiography, New York and Boston Multiples, Inc (New York) and Lois and Michael K. Torf (Boston), 1980. Courtesy the Estate of Sol Lewitt.
It would seem that Sol LeWitts proto-Conceptual work of the early 1960s originated in an understanding of the essential dilemma that has haunted artistic production since 1913, when its basic paradigms of opposition were first formulateda dilemma that could be described as the conflict between structural specificity and random organization.
Ad Reinhardts paintings have been generally understood to be aligned with modernist purification. His thought, however, as revealed through his writing, was significantly more expansive than his paintings appeared.
Negating the Negation of Art:
By Klaus Merkel
Pictorial Violation in the Late Work of Ad Reinhardt and Its Significance for Painting Today
The end of the New York School is one of the most important phases in 1960s American painting and had a far-reaching impact. At now famous events such as so-called Philadelphia Panel in 1960, Ad Reinhardt and Philip Guston in particular contributed towards ending this episode in art history.
American Abstract Artists protest leaflet, 1940. Courtesy the Ad Reinhardt Foundation.
On August 30, 1967, Lee Krasners friend Ad Reinhardt died of a heart attack. Widowed since Jackson Pollocks death in 1956, she held a wake for her him at her home on the East End of Long Island. Reinhardt was buried in the same Springs cemetery as Pollock. This unusual gesture on Krasners part marked her long affection for a painter who stood out among his male contemporaries for the respect which he showed for her work.