Ad Reinhardt – “The Intentional Enigma”

Ad Reinhardt. Abstract Painting. 1960-61

In the last ten years of Reinhardt’s life, he developed a theory of application, a manifesto, an artful method which he sought to perfect within the medium of his paintings:

“A square (neutral, shapeless) canvas, five feet wide, five feet high, as high as a man, as wide as a man’s outstretched arms (not large, not small, sizeless), trisected (no composition), one horizontal form negating one vertical form (formless, no top, no bottom, directionless), three (more or less) dark (lightless) no–contrasting (colorless) colors, brushwork brushed out to remove brushwork, a matte, flat, free–hand, painted surface (glossless, textureless, non–linear, no hard-edge, no soft edge) which does not reflect its surroundings—a pure, abstract, non–objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relationless, disinterested painting—an object that is self–conscious (no unconsciousness) ideal, transcendent, aware of no thing but art (absolutely no anti–art).”

Gallery label text, Focus: Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko, MoMA

Ad Reinhardt. (American, 1913-1967). Abstract Painting. 1966. Gouache on photographic paper, 8 7/8 x 4 5/8 (22.6 x 11.7 cm)

Ad Reinhardt. (American, 1913-1967). Abstract Painting. 1957. Oil on canvas, 9 x 40 (274.3 x 101.5 cm)

Ad Reinhardt at the MoMA

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