Installation view of Ad Reinhardt. at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Mali Olatunji

Ad Reinhardt

MoMA June 1–September 2, 1991
  • The Museum of Modern Art

The first major museum retrospective devoted to the work of American artist Ad Reinhardt includes approximately ninety-five paintings, collages, and gouaches. The exhibition reveals the pictorial development of the artist’s oeuvre and its telling historical relationship to Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.

Ad Reinhardt (1913–1967) was born in Buffalo, New York. In the late 1930s, he began experimenting with geometric abstractions, moving increasingly in the 1940s toward allover patterns. In the 1950s, he became one of the leading artists whose work challenged the Abstract Expressionist search for personal mythology and incorporation of a highly gestural style of painting. Instead, Reinhardt sought to eliminate from art concepts that might be verbalized in terms of “self-expression,” “content,” and “meaning,” aspiring to distill painting to a single primary and uniquely visual experience. He limited his canvases to monochromatic fields of red, blue, and, finally, black.

Around 1960, Reinhardt began to create the 60 × 60″ square paintings that would occupy him until his death. At first sight, these “monochrome” paintings seem like unified color areas, but a closer look reveals a subtle geometrical structuring based on the form of a cross, delineated by almost subliminal shifts of color. His austere reductionist style was influential for a younger, emerging generation of Minimalist and Conceptual artists.

Co-organized by William Rubin, Director Emeritus, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and Richard Koshalek, Director, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The exhibition is supported by grants from The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., and Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. Kinney. Additional support was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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