Ad Reinhardt (1916-1967)
Property from the Estate of Charles H. Carpenter, Jr.
Ad Reinhardt (1916-1967)

Abstract Painting, Blue

Ad Reinhardt (1916-1967)
Abstract Painting, Blue
signed, titled and dated 'Ad Reinhardt Abstract Painting, Blue 1953' (on the backing board)
oil on canvas in artist's frame
30 x 30 in. (76.4 x 76.4 cm.)
Painted in 1953.
Rita Reinhardt, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1968
New York, The Museum of Modern Art and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Ad Reinhardt, May 1991-January 1992, p. 82 (illustrated in color).
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Charles H. Carpenter, Jr.: The Odyssey of a Collector, March 1996-March 1997, p. 51 (illustrated in color).
Ridgefield, Conneticut, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Fifty Years of Supporting the New: The Charles H. Carpenter Jr. Collection, September-December 2002.

Lot Essay

In the late 1950s, Charles Carpenter visited the Betty Parsons Gallery and saw the black paintings of Ad Reinhardt. They left a strong impression, but their austere beauty was too powerful for Carpenter to then consider having one in his home. When Carpenter saw vivid red and blue canvases by Reinhardt, he knew it was possible to live with them as a radiant presence in his domestic environment.

From the late 1950s to Reinhardt's death in 1967, Carpenter and Reinhardt visited one another, corresponded about their mutual enthusiasms and supported one another in their artistic growth. Charles Carpenter gave serious thought to the ideal museum space in which to display Reinhardt's uniquely serene and unusual paintings which require skilled lighting and a calm, meditative environment. He sketched out a plan for an ideal Reinhardt Museum based upon cruciform wings flanking a central axis.

Their bond went beyond the usual relationship between artist and valued client. It was an intellectual friendship with a strong social bond. Carpenter's steady patronage made a difference in the artist's life. His engagement with Reinhardt's disciplined mind gave the collector even greater confidence in his own judgment and broadened his understanding of art for the rest of his life.
The very elegant and balanced Blue Painting of 1953 came into the Carpenters' collection shortly after the sudden death of their friend, Ad Reinhardt in 1967. Its beautiful physical condition is a testament to the Carpenters' understanding of the uniquely sensitive and subtle character of Reinhardt's painted surfaces. It comes from the period Reinhardt described as, "Early-classical hieratical red, blue, black monochrome square-cross beam form symmetries of the fifties." Achieved in a radiant blue with subtle modulations, it has the unique surface character that is a hallmark of the artist's style. As soft and dense as a butterfly's wing, it does not shine but glows with a coloristic brilliance beyond that of ordinary painted surfaces. It catches the light ceaselessly and changes with the hours of the day and transforms itself as day passes into night. It stands in time unchanging yet registering the movement of life and light in its environment. This period of Reinhardt's work also honors color as the elemental, primal physical pleasure it surely is. It does so without evoking blue skies or blue flags or any other association apart from the pure visual joy of the color itself. Clarity of mind and intellectual rigor can indeed support the creation of a dramatically sensual art.
--Susan Larsen

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