Notes on Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings

… stripping away practically all the tools at the artist’s disposal, including color, contrast, fracture, and shape-never mind representation, marketability, or “self-expression.” [Ad Reinhardt] defined his project in rigorously negative terms:

A square (neutral, shapeless) canvas, five feet wide, five feet high, as high as a man, as wide as a man’s outstretched arms (not large, not small, sizeless), trisected (no composition), one horizontal form negating one vertical form (formless, no top, no bottom, directionless), three (more or less) dark (lightless) no-contrasting (colorless) colors, brushwork brushed out to remove brushwork, a matte, flat, free-hand, painted surface (glossless, texture less, non-linear, no hard-edge, no soft edge) which does not reflect its surroundings-a pure, abstract, non-objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relation less, disinterested painting-an object that is self-conscious (no unconsciousness) ideal,transcendent, aware of no thing but art (absolutely no anti-art).

“[painting] is not concerned with communicating specific information or subject matter,” the way illustrations do. Painting is strictly about painting. “Pictures,” by contrast, depict everyday, external reality, which is accomplished most effectively by “magazines and movies.” Therefore abstract art “should be of great immediate value here, to everyone” because it “is clearly and directly what it is.”

Notes taken from Ad Reinhardt’s Black Paintings: A Matter of Time by Arden Reed from The Brooklyn Rail (January 16, 2014). See full article here: http://www.brooklynrail.org/special/AD_REINHARDT/black-paintings/ad-reinhardts-black-paintings-a-matter-of-time

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