At David Zwirner gallery right now, you can see an entire room of Ad Reinhardt‘s black paintings. It’s the first chance to do so in New York since 1991. But you can also see work for which the artist is less known — in particular, his cartoons.
Yes, Reinhardt, a die-hard abstractionist, also drew cartoons and illustrations, largely for the daily newspaper PM between 1942 and 1947. “People knew that Reinhardt had been a cartoonist,” Robert Storr, who curated the show, told The New Yorker. “But the cartoons were seen merely as a sideline. In fact, we show that they’re an entire dimension of his work as an artist.”
Reinhardt often used his cartoons, especially his How to Look at Art series, to advocate for abstraction (which I find slightly ironic; see the example above), and he displays a sharp wit about the art world. Both in subject matter and in influence (played out in the work of artists like William Powhida and Loren Munk), these works feel incredibly relevant today. Here, courtesy of David Zwirner, are a few from the How to Look at Art series:
Ad Reinhardtcontinues at David Zwirner (537 West 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through December 18.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
An Artist’s Hopeful Vision of the Ocean
Indonesian artist Mulyana crafts a tactile, mystical world in which fish, whales, and coral reefs coexist with sea monsters.
An Introduction to “Afrogallonism
Serge Attukwei Clottey explores Ghanaian culture and identity through discarded jerrycans and other found materials.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
A Ride With Liz Cohen
Nothing in the artist’s personal biography could predict that she’d one day become a car builder and bikini model.
LA’s Hammer Museum Wants to Be Seen
After two decades of renovations, the museum that calls itself a “well-kept secret” reopens with a mission to be more visible.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
AI-Generated “Dope Francis” Fools the Internet
Many thought the picture of Pope Francis in a puffer jacket, created using Midjourney, was the real deal.
1,400-Year-Old Mural of Two-Faced Man Found in Peru
Historians hypothesize that the Moche paintings could represent artists’ attempts to experiment with portraying movement or narrative.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Louvre Shutters as Pension Plan Protests Intensify
President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.
In his comments on Ad Reinhardt at David Zwirner Gallery, the organizer of the exhibition — Robert Storr — says that the artist’s cartoons were “seen merely as a sideline.” As far as the general public is concerned, this is probably the case. Museum and gallery exhibitions and most art critics have reinforced this message — a line initially
promulgated by Reinhardt himself during the latter part of his career and rigorously
enforced by subsequent actions of the Estate of Ad Reinhardt. Yet historians of
art and others who have kept up with scholarship on Reinhardt will know that
this is far from an adequate picture of the artist. The question of the
relationship of Reinhardt’s various practices to each other as well as to a
more expansive concept of artistic practice was raised and examined by
historians of art as early as the 1980s.
The desire to understand the full measure of Reinhardt’s versatility and the satisfaction that such knowledge brings is a sentiment that Mr. Storr and I share. He is in a very good position to know that the public — and others involved with visual art — would have had the opportunity to assess all of Reinhardt’s practices sooner but for repeated
decisions by the Estate to refuse permission to scholars who had wished to
reproduce these images and to discuss them in relation to Reinhardt’s overall
practice as an artist. I should know, as I am one of those who had been denied
permission not once, but twice, to reproduce Reinhardt’s work — paintings,
graphic design, cartoons, etc. — in connection with peer-reviewed research
arguing for a holistic view of the artist’s practice. Despite the prohibition,
my scholarship on Reinhardt was published and widely disseminated across
academia and in the art press.
Clearly, it is the prerogative of the Estate of Ad Reinhardt to make whatever decision they wish with regard to the legacy of the artist. Sometimes — not often — there is a change of heart and artist’s estate may loosen their grip and allow for the public dissemination of
information that had hitherto remained off limits. The consequence of such openness and transparency is that the conversation about the meaning and significance of the artist’s lifework is renewed and refreshed. I am gratified that a more complete range of Reinhardt’s practices has finally been allowed to be made public with the blessings of the Estate of Ad Reinhardt.
However, in the flurry of excitement and wonder over works by Reinhardt that have not been visible for so long, we should not forget that in academic circles it is considered to be bad form to build upon the research of others without giving credit where credit is due. It is up to the community of historians and critics of art to decide if it is disingenuous of Mr. Storr — who is considered to be a serious and ethical curator — to give the
impression that the exhibition concept that he has had the privilege of presenting to the public is entirely without precedent. Granted, public events are not the best setting for footnotes, and forthcoming scholarship by Mr. Storr on Reinhardt may reveal another approach. But as far as this episode is concerned, Mr. Storr’s curatorial concept appears ex nihilo.
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