Why did Ad wear white to paint black paintings? What does it mean? These questions have been on the back burner for a long time, waiting for an answer.
Recently, my daughter came home with a book by Thomas Merton under her arm. Though an artist and extremely knowledgeable, she had not heard of the relationship between Merton and Reinhardt, a great and perfect friendship equally based on difference and similarity, many overlaps and one difference. Both men were open to goals set up by Buddhism; one chose the textural, the other the non-textural. Ad systematically erased the use of brushstroke to denote time, eventually achieving another time in painting beyond the textural. The two men also represented polarities in American spiritual art and life: action and meditation, which they sought to resolve. Each got something from the other. Ad’s most beautiful painting hung in Merton’s cell. Ad got the mandala: art for meditation, and Merton, confidence in his intuition and writing as an art form.
In sharing this with my daughter, I realized that the light I saw in Ad’s white coveralls was the light of Merton’s thought, the light of God.
Richard Tuttle recently showed with James Ensor – a hero, whom he feels has brought the verbal and visual to the same plane, as well as contributing to the literature of artists who write about art – in Ostend, Belgium. Enlisting as a pilot in Vietnam, the Air Force decided Tuttle could not be trusted to "push the button", and gave an honorable discharge. The wounds of those years, for many, he believes, are still not healed. A suggested reading list from RT: Ho Chi Minh: A Life, by William J. Duiker; Down With Colonialism! (speeches of Ho Chi Minh, with an introduction by Walter Bello), & The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh (with an intro and photos by Larry Towell; also in various editions).