Ad Reinhardt. Abstract Painting. 1957
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.
Ad Reinhardt presents a funny contradiction because, in fact, he is one of the most articulate of the Abstract Expressionists. He wrote a great deal. On the other hand, when it came to the art, he believed in total silence. It didn't need that crutch of verbal language or explanation.
Director, Glenn Lowry: The artist, reading from his essay, “Art-as-Art Dogma,” in 1965
Ad Reinhardt, Archival: The one standard in art is oneness and fineness, rightness and purity, abstractness and evanescence. The one thing to say about the best art is the breathlessness, lifelessness, deathlessness, contentlessness, formlessness, spacelessness and timelessness. This is always the end of art.