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Iconic Ad Reinhardt exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery NY

Art is art

 

After Art Basel Miami art fair everyone must be feeling literally drunk of art and artists;  but we’d like to pay tribute and review some of the best shows happened during 2013.

Ad Reinhardt‘s at David Zwirner Gallery on 20th Street, New York is definitely one of them.

 Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013 © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London


Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

The exhibition comprised works never showed before in this depth of an artist that is still a mystery for the general public. Ad Reinhardt‘s works were in different media: art cartoons, photography, writing and painting, and this is a unique opportunity to understand his work as a whole and the complexity of it.


 Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013 © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London


Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

The art cartoons are displayed in the main space of the gallery. They were institutional critiques, very sharp but funny and beautifully drawn. He played with language and images, using them as intellectual weapons and in-jokes. And I found them really engaging and exciting to read.

The slideshow of photographs that Ad Reinhardt took during two decades, of a mix of his travels to Europe and Asia with some images from magazines and museum collections. He often presented them in lecture-format slideshows, or, as he referred to them, “non-happenings.” The spectator would immediately start comparing formal qualities to their meaning, comparing cultures, past and present. Ad Reinhardt was incredibly knowledgeable about Asian art  and art history.

Then you would encounter a beautiful room with thirteen black paintings. The room has a skylight, and I really recommend you to go during the morning to see this paintings with day light.

Ad Reinhardt’s “ultimate” black paintings weren’t seen in New York since the 1991 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He describes them as:

“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, textureless, non-linear, no hard-edge, no soft edge) which does not reflect its surroundings—a pure, abstract, non-objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relationless, disinterested painting—an object that is self-conscious (no unconsciousness) ideal, transcendent, aware of no thing but art ( absolutely no anti-art).”

Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013 © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

This room is an extraordinary accomplishment, not just because of the great condition of the paintings and the good number of them, but for having this chance of seeing these living entities together. As he said: “I’m simply making the lasts paintings that anybody could make”. And they look rigorous, strict and severe but they have subtleties in terms of color that will come up slowly if you stay enough time in the room.

They are meant to be seen and experienced.

For Ad Reinhardt art was sufficient by itself, and it didn’t need to mean anything.

“Art is art. Everything else is everything else”. Ad Reinhardt

 Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013 © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London


Installation view, Ad Reinhardt, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

 

Ad Reinhardt in his studio, New York, 1966. Photo by Marvin Lazarus © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Ad Reinhardt in his studio, New York, 1966.
Photo by Marvin Lazarus
© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

If you’d like to have more information about Ad Reinhardt we recommend you to watch this video with Robert Storr giving an introduction of the works in the show:

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