Ad Reinhardt

Date/place of birth

December 24, 1913, Buffalo, New York, United States

Day/place of death

August 30, 1967, New York, United States

Ad Reinhardt - Untitled (Black Painting)
Ad Reinhardt - Untitled (Black Painting)

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Ad Reinhardt biography

Ad Reinhardt belongs to the few American artists dedicated to geometric abstraction; despite his initial rejection, he succeeded in becoming a key figure of conceptual art, minimalism and monochrome painting.

Ad Reinhardt – Early talent for painting, the study of art history

Ad Reinhardt was born Adolph Dietrich Friedrich Reinhardt on 24 December 1913 in Buffalo. As the son of German-Russian immigrants, he grew up in modest circumstances. His pronounced interest for art was already noticeable at school and his early pictures won awards. The study of art followed, and after visiting various colleges, he enrolled at Columbia University for art history, to the displeasure of his father, however. But Ad Reinhardt quite self-confidently took the view that an academic education could not further his painting and wanted to develop a picture of the whole subject before preparing to add his own contribution. At university he studied under Meyer Schapiro and developed close friendships with Robert Lax and Thomas Merton. The three young men held similar opinions about art and developed similar ideas.

Pointed caricatures, political interest and portrait painting

During his studies, Ad Reinhardt worked extensively as a cartoonist, with politics playing an increasingly important role, reflecting his upbringing in a strict socialist environment. Later, as an established painter, he tried with meticulous care to stamp out all references to the real world in his work in order to create a mystical, timeless atmosphere. Following university Ad Reinhardt took extra lesson with the German-American abstract painter Carl Holty as well as portrait painting with Karl Anderson. His professor Holty put him in contact with other abstract painters and assisted him with various group exhibitions. In retrospect, Reinhardt classed this time as one of the most important experiences of his life.

The colour black as the last and highest form of art

Ad Reinhardt was convinced that he could change the world and society with his art. This became particularly clear in his famous series Black Paintings consisting of uniformly dark black-toned pictures, which only reveal their fine nuances on close inspection. Reinhardt conceived these works, which completely dominated his oeuvre from 1953, as meditation panels. Black embodied the logical answer to all questions about art, for the painter, considered a radical art purist, consistently held the view that in the long run all alien elements in art must be eliminated. This included hidden symbols, incorporated statements, recognizable style and conscious composition. For Ad Reinhardt, all this was logically dissolved in a ghostly, dark blackness. He had already dedicated himself primarily to monochrome painting in the previous few years, with red and blue-toned pictures. The artist’s general classification in Expressionism caused him great pain, even though he was harshly critical of the American representatives of this movement.

Ad Reinhardt died in New York on 30 August 1967 following a heart attack.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Ad Reinhardt Prices

Ad ReinhardtUntitled (Black Painting)€37.800
Ad ReinhardtOhne Titel (Black Painting)€35.700
PortfolioTen works by ten painters€13.640
Ad Reinhardt'10 Screenprints by Ad Reinhardt'€5.712
Ad ReinhardtOhne Titel (Black Square)€2.618

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