Born in 1913, Ad Reinhardt was an American abstract painter who was part of a group of artists that showed with Betty Parsons Gallery and who later became key members of the Abstract Expressionist movement. As both a painter and a writer, Reinhardt championed the development of a minimalist aesthetic in painting.
Reinhardt’s Untitled (Blue-Purple Painting) from 1952 was acquired by the collector Ethel Epstein from Galerie Iris Clert in 1963 and has remained within her family since that time. The work is executed in rich shades of ultramarine blue which seem to radiate from the canvas’s smooth and matte surface.
It is only through a period of observation that the work’s underlying structure becomes clear, manifesting itself in the form of an “I” surrounded by bands of blue on either side. Though distinct, the shades of blue challenge the limits of our perception. Reinhardt asks us to view the work not quickly, but contemplatively.
This painting represents a highpoint for Ad Reinhardt’s exploration of colored minimalist compositions, as during the last several years of his life he focused his output entirely on paintings executed in shades of black.