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Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)

Adolf Frederick (Ad) Reinhardt was born the son of immigrants, in Buffalo, New York on December 24, 1913. He studied art history at Columbia University, where he edited the humor magazine and wrestled. He attended the National Academy of Design, the American Artists' School and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. In 1937, he joined the American Abstract Artists group, beginning his career as an artist in typical 1930s fashion as an easel painter on the Federal Art Project. He also did collages and Cubist paintings with hard-edge, flat planes of color.

Reinhardt was the first important American painter who was an abstractionist from
beginning to end. Reinhardt was known for his humorous, actually hilarious, swipes at the art world. His own semifacetious chronology of his life lists "1938 - Listens to neighbor Stuart Davis' loud ragtime jazz records, looks at his loud colored shirts on clotheslines...1939 - Disagrees with Matta about importance in art of artists rubbing against sweaty people in subway rush hours."


Reinhardt dismissed Thomas Hart Benton as an inconsequential ear of corn, Jackson Pollock as an obscure leaf on the tree of art, etc. Not surprisingly, Reinhardt was a controversial figure. Before the early 1950s his career was a long process of emptying out elements from his art. The first nearly monochromatic paintings were blue or red, then beginning in 1954 he painted nothing but black paintings. Both his life and work lead up to these great pictures, his "ultimates," as he called them. He died at his peak in New York City on August 30, 1967.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Mark Stevens in Newsweek, January 28, 1980
Peter Plagens in Newsweek, June 24, 1991
Nicholas Jenkins in Art News, October 1991
From the Internet, and