Description

    AD REINHARDT (American, 1913-1967)
    Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952
    Oil on canvas
    Signed in pencil lower right: ReinHaRDT1952
    36 x 24 inches (91.4 x 61.0 cm)

    PROVENANCE:
    Purchased directly from the artist by Ethel Epstein;
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Ad Reinhardt joined the American Abstract Artists in 1937, which was arguably the most important group of abstract painters assembled in the world. Despite its namesake, the group was not exclusive to American painters. One of its co-founders was Hungarian Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, and other influential members included Dutch painter Piet Mondrian and German artist Josef Albers. Joining the AAA was a defining moment of Reinhardt's career, because it cemented his commitment to abstract painting. Throughout the 1930s, Reinhardt painted bold abstract compositions, which he called "late-classical-mannerist-post-cubist, geometric abstractions". Highly competent as a painter and armed with a deep understanding of abstract theory and its underlying formal structures, he began to participate in New York exhibitions.

    By the early 1940s, Reinhardt was exhibiting regularly at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, a center for the burgeoning abstract expressionist movement. His over-all compositions and calligraphic-patterned paintings, pointed to an alliance with the abstract expressionist painters. In retrospect, this could be seen as a diversion or simply a step in the formative process, but in either case, Reinhardt abandoned that path.

    It was in the very early 1950s when he came home as a painter. He moved toward strict geometric purity, creating symmetrical, rectangular shapes in single color schemes, moving from red to blue to black. From that time until his death in 1967, Reinhardt continued to simplify and purify his paintings, creating solemn, reductivist canvases for which he is best known.

    Reinhardt was a major influence on minimal, conceptual, and monochrome painting, and wrote and lectured extensively on the subject. In his Art as Art , Reinhardt wrote, "A fine artist has no use for use, no meaning for meaning, and no need for need." He also said that art history ended with his black paintings. Reinhardt was known for his edgy sense of humor, but this comment reveals that he was satisfied by what he had accomplished with the paintings done in the 1950s. He truly felt he had achieved what he set out to do. Abstract painting, Blue is an excellent example of his best period of work, as well as an important representation of minimal abstract painting.

    ERRATUM:
    The following painting is being sold as an authentic work by Ad Reinhardt. The pencil inscription on the front of the painting was most likely added later and bears no weight upon the statement of authenticity.


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    Estimate: $1,750,000 - $2,500,000.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2008
    11th Thursday
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