Ad Reinhardt, Untitled, 1949

Born in 1913, Ad Reinhardt was an American abstract painter and who later became a key member of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Reinhardt championed Abstract Expressionism through writing, painting, and even cartoons. While Reinhardt’s early work was Abstract Expressionist in style, he sought a more ordered and pure form of abstraction after 1949, the style for which he is best known. He created this painting during that period of exploration before his work developed an increasingly monochromatic and minimalist aesthetic, which culminated in his Black Paintings in the 1950s and ‘60s. At the time of this piece’s creation, Reinhardt became interested in East Asian philosophy. Inspired by Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, he used all-over compositions and avoided reworking the paint after applying it. This painting represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s career and a crucial development for a revelatory artistic voice for Minimalism and Conceptualism.