Reinhardt was a purist. While he was often lumped in with the Abstract Expressionists—an association he repeatedly mocked—he made work that challenged their search for personal expression in their art. Instead, he sought to eradicate self-expression, subject matter, and meaning from his paintings, distilling them down to an absolute, visual experience. “The one, eternal, permanent revolution in art is always a negation of the use of art for some purpose other than its own,” he argued. In Number 111, he moved further toward this refined goal by narrowing his range of chroma and value. The result is a painting with a quieter surface than those of previous years. In his overlapping brushstrokes of warm and cool colors, Reinhardt retains a “push/pull” dynamic—in which the warm colors appear to advance (push) toward viewers, while the cool colors appear to recede (pull) away—but he mutes its effect with the gray chroma of his palette. As in his previous visually aggressive works, his use of near-value complementary colors creates a vibrating effect across the canvas.
Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017