Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel, sold to benefit the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation
Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)

Red Painting, 1950

Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
Red Painting, 1950
signed and dated 'Reinhardt 1950' (lower right); signed again, titled and dated again 'Ad Reinhardt "Red Painting, 1950"' (on the backing board)
oil on canvas, in painted artist's frame
overall: 42 ½ x 34 ½ in. (108 x 87.6 cm.)
Painted in 1950.
Estate of the artist
Marlborough Gallery, Inc., New York
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. Kinney, Washington D.C., 1977
Pace Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 1994
Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle; Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum; Kunsthaus Zürich; Paris, Centre Nationale d'Art Contemporain, Grand Palais; Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Ad Reinhardt, September 1972-August 1973, no. 28.
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Ad Reinhardt: A Selection from 1972 to 1952 , March 1974, no. 45.
Rome, Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Ad Reinhardt: A Selection from 1972 to 1952 , May-July 1974.
Zürich, Marlborough Galerie, Ad Reinhardt, December 1974-January 1975, no. 17 (illustrated on the cover).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Ad Reinhardt: Early Works Through Late Black Paintings 1941-1966, October-November 1977.
Washington D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Ad Reinhardt: Seventeen Works, September-December 1984.
New York, Pace Gallery, Mondrian/Reinhardt, Influence and Infinity, October-December 1997.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan

Lot Essay

Ad Reinhardt’s Red Painting (1950) stands as an exemplary work of the artist’s introspective and prolific career. Impressive in scale and resonant in color, Red Painting demonstrates Reinhardt’s highly celebrated oeuvre. The painting deeply reflects Reinhardt's signature works of delicate monochrome abstract paintings, which he started in the 1950’s and would then grow to be a major part of his career. Red Painting would be considered an early and incredibly rare work in Reinhardt’s oeuvre. Painted in a radiant and dramatic red tone with hints of blue, Red Painting holds the unique characteristics that serve as a hallmark of Reinhardt’s most celebrated style.

Executed in 1950, Red Painting stands as a large monochromatic field of reds, purples and blues that strikingly capture the viewer's gaze. The work’s primary single tone color of red consumes the entirety of the canvas, overlapping with tones of light purple and vibrant blue throughout the work. As the red and blue squares overlay one another, the spatial relationship between Reinhardt’s brush strokes becomes ambiguous and the layers fluctuate between recession and projection. The red hues appear to push toward the spectator while the cooler slits of blue recede in the foreground. The squares floating in the center interact harmoniously with one another, making for their abstract displacement a compatible and masterful use of space, color, and symmetry. Red Painting’s vibrant allure demands keen and reverent observation through its vivid primary colors and large scale.

Reinhardt’s Red Painting is one of several in one of his most celebrated color canvases that he began producing in the 1950s. This series included structured monochromatic compositions of red, blue, or black. While Reinhardt’s oeuvre demonstrates a fascination with symmetry, this particular work of art stands as more unique to Reinhardt’s contemplative and evolved style. The work’s subtle tonal variations amongst the slits of blue explores Reinhardt’s interest in the relationship between shape, color, and space. While this particular work demonstrates Reinhardt’s more abstract hand, Red Painting stands as a critical counter-narrative to the dominating gesturalism of artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko of the Abstract Expressionist genre that was dominating the New York art scene at the time. Reinhardt’s form significantly developed throughout the 1940s from obscure fields of color and lines to the more homogenous color grids that began to surface around the 1950s. Most notably, Reinhardt’s Red Painting celebrates his commitment to occupy the entirety of the surface rather than having a decipherable formal structure. This style set him apart from European abstraction. Red Painting perfectly encapsulates Reinhardt’s commitment in exploring geometric order through his small rectangles blurring over one another. Red Painting brings together Reinhardt’s exquisite practice and contemplative journey through geometric abstraction and solidifies the artist’s role as one of the most prominent influences of the future of Conceptual and Minimalist artists.

Ad Reinhardt was born and raised in New York. He studied Philosophy and Art History at Columbia University and began to practice painting around the late 1930s. Fundamentally influenced by the concepts of Constructivism, Cubism and the formal compositions of artist’s such as Piet Mondrian, Reinhardt developed an abstract aura in his work from the start. Strongly embedded in his practice is Reinhardt’s belief that art should be separated from the everyday and be looked as a removed, pure, and moral pursuit. His initial primary collages and paintings feature striking geometric shapes that reduce down to staccato compositions in a limited chromatic palette. These would lead into his monochromatic red and blue series of paintings designated by strict geometric arrangements and reduced color palettes.

Due to its chromatic brilliance, Red Painting exquisitely captures light and glows beyond its painted surface. The work astounds and uniquely demonstrates Reinhardt’s masterful technique and vision. The primary and interactive nature of the red and blue tones embody Reinhardt’s most fundamental belief -- that color reduced to its very nature, can be elemental. Red Paintings subtle and chromatic differences stand purely for the visual exuberance of color itself. Reducing the conventional modes of art to its chromatic essence, Reinhardt pioneered a new perspective concerning the polemics of Abstract Expressionism.

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