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Black Paintings

On a Painting by Ad Reinhardt

The title caption is inscribed on the back of the painting in Reinhardt's own hand, "Abstract Painting Number 87."

Time is (Not) Money

Despite Reinhardt’s own celebrations of timelessness, critics recognized the importance of time to looking at his paintings. It takes time for the subtle differences of the black paintings in particular to emerge.

Reinhardt and the Picture Plane

At some time in the ’80s I gave a lecture about American painting between the world wars at a space the Whitney Museum had on Wall Street, where they put on shows and had people come and give talks at lunchtime.

Remembering Reinhardt

I was baffled. I saw only black paintings. I could not figure out the enthusiasm. That worried me, because I knew that others were seeing something in those pictures which I did not.

The Radicality of Reinhardt

The stunning extremism of Reinhardt’s late work signifies a radical attenuation of the pictorial and material means of post-Cubist abstraction.


What I like best about Ad Reinhardt’s polychromatic black paintings is how they turn me on.

Ad Reinhardt and the Whiteness of the Whale

In Chapter 42 of Moby Dick, Ishmael arrives by apprehensive steps at a disquieting thought: “the whiteness of the whale” makes tangible the deathly void that lurks beneath the world’s appearances.

Ad Reinhardt: Unvirtual Images

Like a procession of Japanese monks with black robes and shaven heads, the 13 late paintings by Ad Reinhardt circle a large white room at David Zwirner Gallery.

Indivisibility Undone

The black paintings that left Reinhardt’s studio in the final six years of his career maintained a fragile material and visual equilibrium, easily marred by routine handling that would leave traditionally painted canvas unharmed.

Ad Reinhardt’s Black Paintings: A Matter of Time

What everybody knows about Ad Reinhardt, even if they know nothing else: his black paintings take a long time to see.

A Tale of Two (Black) Squares: Reinhardt, Stella, and Irwin

I came to the 60s late, and from out of town. So The Jewish Museum’s Toward a New Abstraction and the Modern’s “Americans 1963,” both of which opened in the spring of 1963, were news to me.

Pictures of One Thing

Did Reinhardt really believe that the art he called for could exist, that the museum he called for could exist, that the academy he called for could exist?

The Art of Seeing

If Reinhardt’s black paintings are often difficult to grasp as a spectator, the surface of these paintings are even more problematic for the conservator whose mandate is to maintain their pristine quality.

Reinhardt’s Black Paintings: A Psychoanalytic Critique

“Expressionism and surrealism is always fake, art as something else is always fake,” Reinhardt wrote, but his abstract art is paradoxically and subliminally expressionistic and surrealistic, which doesn’t make it fake.

The Black Paintings

I met Ad Reinhardt in 1962, after returning from a Fulbright in Spain. Seeing Ad’s work, and spending time with him, was significant to the development of my early career.

Art of Life of Art

How to get ahead and keep one's head above hot water in the art whirl.

Shape? Imagination? Light? Form? Object? Color? World?

Published in Prophetic Voices: Ideas and Words on Revolution. Ed. Ned O’Gorman (New York: Random House, 1969).

The Next Revolution in Art
(Art-as-Art Dogma, Part II)

The next revolution in art will be the same, old, one revolution.


The Brooklyn Rail


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