Why I called a painting of mine “Reinhardt’s Daughter”

Anyone who loves modern painting cannot get around Ad Reinhardt. You have to relate to him in some way or another.

You can’t say you are a painter of our times and not care or not want to know about Ad Reinhardt.

Anyone who is interested in the differences between paintings and pictures has to address Ad Reinhardt.

You can’t say you are using photographic sources and like both the figurative and the abstract and not want to read Ad Reinhardt.

Anyone who is fascinated by what colors do or can do, or mean or not, cannot ignore what Ad Reinhardt has to say about this.

You can’t say you’re intrigued by (multi-)culturalism and not check out what Ad Reinhardt writes about the Orient and religion.

Anyone who enjoys critical writing about art and appreciates irony and humor as essential to this task, cannot but love Ad Reinhardt.

Ad Reinhardt makes you blush and makes you laugh, because of art and at art and also at yourself. He makes you think and lifts you up.

In 1994 I painted two versions of my young daughter based on the same photograph of her sleeping. I changed the scale and I changed the colors or rather, although the image remained the same, the scale and colors were different for each work. The very white colored child figure, I called “Cupid.” She reminded me of the old European religious paintings where many a round angel-typed child falls from or flies through the skies, clouds or heaven(s). The dark maroon-brown colored child figure I named Reinhardt’s daughter. The painting is a homage to Reinhardt’s spiritualism.

I think that Reinhardt might not have liked me as much as I like him, and he might not acknowledge me as his “daughter” in the line of his art family tree.

Reinhardt felt that artists who try to make pictures that are also paintings usually fail to do either well. They do it “to avoid political responsibility and aesthetic criticism.”

Even though I try to solve this dilemma by trying to make works that look like pictures and act like paintings, I don’t know if he would agree and his approval means a lot to me.




Marlene Dumas, Amsterdam , November 15, 2013

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Marlene Dumas

MARLENE DUMAS is a South African born painter who lives and works in Amsterdam.

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