Now on View at MAG
Untitled Abstraction, 1954
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur L. Stern, 65.5
Ad Reinhardt took a philosophical point of view when it came to making fine art and explaining its significance. An influential writer on the subject, he is remembered for having made the following statement: “Art is Art, and Life is Life.” The spirit of this statement is well represented by this painting, which has a very subtle composition that only emerges after close inspection. For Reinhardt, to appreciate the true significance of art one shouldn’t compare it to anything else. Art is an idea that is revealed only through pure form and content. For Reinhardt, art cannot teach you about the world. It can only teach you about art.
Paintings like this one influenced the glass artist Josiah McElheny, who made his Blue Prism Painting series partly in homage to Reinhardt. One example from McElheny’s series hangs across the gallery, almost opposite to the Reinhardt. Notice this similarities and differences in the underlying grid-like compositions of these two works.