Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
Abstract Painting, Red
Oil on canvas
Overall: 30 1/8 × 15 in. (76.5 × 38.1 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from The Lauder Foundation, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Abstract Painting, Red is one of the single tone color canvases that Ad Reinhardt began making in the early 1950s—highly structured allover compositions of red, blue, or black. It is a diptych of two square canvases, each of which is composed of nine smaller squares of various shades of red that form a cruciform shape. As one square abuts another of a slightly different value or saturation, the relationship between positive and negative space becomes ambiguous, and the surface seems to fluctuate between projection and recession, concreteness and immateriality. If Abstract Painting, Red and Reinhardt’s other monochrome works of the same period can be said to be “about” anything, it is themselves—their color, shape, and symmetry. The insistent, geometric self-referentiality of these works not only stands as an important counter-narrative to the gesturalism of then-dominant Abstract Expressionist painting, but it also anticipates the radically reductive quality of the black paintings that Reinhardt would begin the following year.