Photo Essays

How to Look at Ad Reinhardt’s Cartoons

(all images © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York / London)
Ad Reinhardt cartoon (all images © 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York / London)
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 Reinhardt, "How to Look at Modern Art in America," PM (June 2, 1946) (© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York / London)
Ad Reinhardt, “How to Look at Modern Art in America,” PM (June 2, 1946) (click to enlarge)
Ad Reinhardt, "How to Look at Art-Talk," PM, (June 9, 1946) (© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London)
Ad Reinhardt, “How to Look at Art-Talk,” PM, (June 9, 1946) (click to enlarge)
Ad Reinhardt, "How to Look at a Good Idea," PM (August 4, 1946) (© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London)
Ad Reinhardt, “How to Look at a Good Idea,” PM (August 4, 1946) (click to enlarge)
Ad Reinhardt, "How to Look at Creation, How to Look at 3 Current Shows, and How to Look at a Theme," PM (December 15, 1946) (© 2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London)
Ad Reinhardt, “How to Look at Creation, How to Look at 3 Current Shows, and How to Look at a Theme,” PM (December 15, 1946) (click to enlarge)
Ad Reinhardt continues at David Zwirner (537 West 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through December 18.

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