Collection 1950s–1970s

Ad Reinhardt. Abstract Painting. 1957 438

Oil on canvas, 9' x 40" (274.3 x 101.5 cm). Purchase. © 2024 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curator, Ann Temkin: Ad Reinhardt believed that the best way to get at the essence of painting was to limit the parameters with which he, as an artist, could work. So as of the beginning of the 1950s, his palette was restricted either to red, blue, white or eventually, and only, black.

And as you stand in front of this black painting you probably have begun to see the cross that goes across the middle from side to side and down the middle from top to bottom of different colors—very subtly different from the black that we get the overall impression of. But emerging to make you realize that there's a construction almost hidden within waiting for you to find it.

The paint that Reinhardt used was very, very matte, or dry, because Reinhardt wanted to strip back the medium of paint to being less of a mixture and more of this just raw pigment that would give his paintings this unique quality of revealing themselves slowly.