In Non-Happening after Ad Reinhardt*, Pierre Leguillon shows more than 600 slides that were used in lectures, classes, and slides events by New York abstract painter Ad Reinhardt (1913– 1967). Leguillon will then discuss Reinhardt with Taiwanese art historian Jow-Jiun Gong.
Ad Reinhardt is best known for his black monochromes, his so-called “ultimate paintings,” to which he devoted himself during the 1960s. Also well known are the satirical comic strips and illustrations he made for Art News magazine and the leftwing newspaper PM. However, little is documented about the artist’s archive of 10,000 photographic slides, now held by the Ad Reinhardt Foundation in New York.
From eyewitness accounts it has been established that Reinhardt’s slideshows consisted of a rapid succession of details of art, decorative art, and architecture, photographed during his many travels abroad (Europe, Egypt, Persia, Syria, Jordan, Japan, India, etc.). Constructing a formal analysis of artistic creation over centuries, they seemed to follow George Kubler’s hypothesis in The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things that there is no progress in art. By framing his shots so as to reveal hidden or overlooked aspects of cultural artefacts, Reinhardt also offered a global “reading” of the history of art, anticipating today’s image search engines.
Reinhardt’s slides, beyond their author’s acknowledged role as a leading proponent of Abstract Expressionism and a precursor of Minimal Art, can be seen as a missing link in a history that leads from Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1924– 1929) to similar archival endeavors by Charles Eames, Sol LeWitt, and Gerhard Richter.
*The artist expresses gratitude to the Ad Reinhardt Foundation, New York, for its kind support and also special thanks to Anna Reinhardt, Wayne Daly and David Zwirner Gallery.