167
167
Ad Reinhardt
ABSTRACT PAINTING, BLUE
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 610,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
167
Ad Reinhardt
ABSTRACT PAINTING, BLUE
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 610,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Ad Reinhardt
1913 - 1967
ABSTRACT PAINTING, BLUE
signed and dated 1954 on the stretcher; signed, titled and dated 1952 on the backing board
oil on canvas
24 by 20 in. 61 by 50.8 cm.
Executed in 1952-1954.
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Provenance

Private Collection, Dallas
Sotheby's, New York, May 9, 1996, lot 156
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Catalogue Note

Ad Reinhardt’s Abstract Painting, Blue from 1952-1954 is an archetype of Reinhardt’s pioneering early work emphasizing the possibilities of color as an essence and not a metaphor. Part of a larger series of Abstract Paintings painted in blue as well as red and later black, this work exemplifies the artist’s mastery over color and form. The seminal and classic blue and red monochromes from the early 1950s reveal an incredibly restrained and soulful clarity that remains the capstone of Reinhardt’s entire oeuvre. Their geometric symmetry, subtle tonal variation, and frontal verticality allowed for the full expression of a single color’s range.

Attracted to Cubism, Reinhardt shattered the conventions of the movement by means of its very own forms. Absolving the rectilinear form from its capacity to create an image in perspectival depth, as demonstrated by artists such as Picasso and Braque, Reinhardt rendered it a neutral optical device devoid of image or subject. In this respect, Abstract Painting, Blue formally advances upon the precedent set by Kazimir Malevich, whose revolutionary canvases share the monochromatic rectilinear configuration of Reinhardt’s compositions. Like Malevich, whose paintings called for the reduction of painting to its very essence, Reinhardt’s composition implies both finality and the creation of a blank slate to open an entirely new potentiality.

The present work articulates the color blue in three discrete tones and forms: two symmetrical and parallel deep navy vertical rectangles within the frame of a luminous cobalt background. These chromatic variations are not yet as faint as they would become in Reinhardt’s later black paintings, while also marking a departure from Reinhardt’s earlier compositions of interspersed bricks of clearly disparate hues—Abstract Painting, Blue lies somewhere in between as a formative, transitional painting that displays Reinhardt’s maturing practice. Abstract Painting, Blue affirms Reinhardt’s place in the pantheon of the great masters of color such as Josef Albers and Mark Rothko, drawing a complex dualism and optical complexity from the interplay of slightly varied monochromatic hues.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York