Ad Reinhardt – Abstract Painting, 1959

 

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AD REINHARDT (1913-1967)

Abstract Painting, 1959

1959

oil on canvas

108 x 40 in. (274.3 x 101.6 cm)

AD REINHARDT (1913-1967)

Abstract Painting, 1959

1959

oil on canvas

108 x 40 in. (274.3 x 101.6 cm)

Provenance:

Mrs. Betsy Zogbaum
Marlborough Collection, ca. 1970
Private Collection, Belgium

Literature:

M. Corris, Ad Reinhardt, Reaktion Books Ltd, London, 2008
B. Rose, Monochromes. From Malevich to the present, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2006: pp. 202-204
B. Rose, Art as Art. The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991
M. Tuchman, The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985, New York and Los Angeles: Abbeville Press and Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, 1986

Exhibition:

Frans Hals Museum, Hof, Haarlem, Rendez-vous, 29/03 – 30/09/2018
David Zwirner Gallery, New York, Ad Reinhardt, 7/11 – 8/12/2013
Josef Albers Museum, Quadratt Bottrop, Duitsland, Last Paintings. Ad Reinhardt, 26/09/2010-9/1/2011
Palazzo Fortuny,Venice, In-Finitum, 6/06-15/11/2009
Chapelle de l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, Academia: Qui es-tu?, 10/09 -23/11/2008
Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico, Expressionismo Abstracto, 10/10/1996-12/01/1997, catalogue number 89
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Ad Reinhardt, 13/10/1991 – 05/01/1992, illustrated in catalogue page 93
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Ad Reinhardt, 30/05 – 02/09/1991
Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grand Palais Paris, Ad Reinhardt, 22/05 – 02/07/1973, catalogue number 56

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More

Ad Reinhardt’s search for the “ultimate” painting—painting beyond the realm of tangible, easily comprehensible art—led to the creation of his black paintings, including this masterpiece. In Abstract Painting (1959) from this rare and coveted final series, the composition is reduced to flattened rectangles with barely legible distinction between the rich, profound purples, blues, and greens verging on cosmic black. All of these elements ensure a completely immersive, meditative, and intimate experience of what Reinhardt termed “slow art.”

Of the 14 black paintings to come up for auction in the past ten years, none were larger than 60 x 60 inches. The last time a Reinhardt black painting of this large scale came up for auction was 30 years ago, selling for $2.5 million in 1990. This painting has changed hands only twice since it was created in 1959.

All seven black paintings of this large size (108 x 40 inches) hung together at the artist’s Museum of Modern Art retrospective in 1991. Other works from this series are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among other major public institutions.

Video

View our video of Ad Reinhardt’s Abstract Painting, 1959

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“As an artist I would like to eliminate the symbolic pretty much, for black is interesting not as a color but as a non-color and as the absence of color.” – Ad Reinhardt

History

“One must turn away from everything else and concentrate on the picture as though peering through a window into the night.” This is how writer Thomas Merton described the experience of standing in front of a Reinhardt black painting.

Ad Reinhardt was an abstract painter active in New York from the 1930s to the 1960s. A central figure of the movement that would come to be known as Abstract Expressionism, Reinhardt exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other influential members of the New York School.

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  • Ad-Reinhardt-portrait-1966
    Ad Reinhardt in studio, 1966

RARITY OF REINHARDT’S BLACK PAINTINGS

  • reinhardtportrait-WEB
    Ad Reinhardt in his studio in 1953, the year he began working exclusively on black paintings
  • reinhardtformidablemag-WEB
    Reinhardt at work in his studio
  • Reinhardt-install1a
    The 7 large Reinhardt black paintings hung together at the 1991 MoMA retrospective
  • Reinhardt-install2b
    The 7 large Reinhardt black paintings hung together at the 1991 MoMA retrospective

Ad Reinhardt began working on black paintings in the early 1950s, focusing on them exclusively from 1953 until his death in 1967. He created at least 50 black paintings in various sizes that have been documented in major Reinhardt exhibitions, and 18 of them are in permanent museum collections. Only 7 are of this large size (108 x 40 in.), two of which are held in museum collections: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Brooklyn Museum. The remaining 5, which include this example, are in private collections.

The last time a Reinhardt black painting of this large scale came up for auction was 30 years ago when Abstract Painting (1958) sold at Sotheby’s New York on May 8, 1990 for over $2.5 million USD.

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“The one thing to say about art is, its breathlessness, lifelessness, deathlessness, contentlessness, formlessness, spacelessness, and timelessness. This is always the end of art.” – Ad Reinhardt

Reinhardt Black Paintings in Museum Collections

"No. 10" (1959), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
“No. 10” (1959), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
"Untitled (Composition #104)" (1954-1960), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Brooklyn Museum, New York
“Untitled (Composition #104)” (1954-1960), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Brooklyn Museum, New York
"Abstract Painting" (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
“Abstract Painting” (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
"Abstract Painting" (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
“Abstract Painting” (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Image Gallery

“The one question, the one principle, the one crisis in art of the twentieth century centers in the uncompromising ‘purity’ of art, and in the consciousness that art comes from art only, not from anything else.” – Ad Reinhardt

Additional Resources

Ad Reinhardt: From the Curator. Video created by the Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Painting Techniques of Ad Reinhardt. Video created by the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Ad Reinhardt, retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1991

Authentication

The definitive authority on the authenticity of paintings by Van Gogh, the Van Gogh Museum inspected this painting in January 2020 and provided this letter of authenticity. During that inspection, X-ray revealed a second painting under the surface – a portrait of a man.

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KM_C454e-20200128185738

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