MICHAEL CORRIS is Professor of Art and Chair of the Division of Art of the Meadows School of the Arts/SMU. Recent publications include Ad Reinhardt (Reaktion Books, 2008) and Art, Word and Image: 2,000 Years of Visual/Textual Interaction (with John Dixon Hunt and David Lomas, Reaktion Books, 2010). He is currently working on a study of the curious relation between contemporary art and philosophy.
At one point in this long overdue exhibition of early works by Ad Reinhardt, I was stopped dead in my tracks, arrested by an insignificantly sized gouache of 1939. What stunned me about this 5 1/8 x 12-inch painting was its uncanny relationship to the twin problems of color and form that would occupy Reinhardt most intensely throughout the 1950s until the untimely end of his life in 1967.
That Ad Reinhardt took a hard line on the art-life divide has never been in question. What has been at issue is what, precisely, such a position meant and what significance such a position could possibly have for artists today.