Ad Reinhardt in his studio, 1953.

WALTER ROSENBLUM/COURTESY DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK AND LONDON

With a show of Ad Reinhardt’s blue paintings currently on view at David Zwirner in New York, we’ve reprinted the article “Reinhardt Paints a Picture,” from the March 1965 issue of ARTnews. Readers familiar with the “Paints a Picture” series, which regularly featured one artist talking in depth about the making of a work, will notice something unusual about this article: Ad Reinhardt is in conversation with Ad Reinhardt. The painter was a frequent contributor to ARTnews during the 1950s and ’60s, and here he used the “Paints a Picture” series to lampoon the studio-visit format. (The article was initially followed by part five of Reinhardt’s ongoing “Art-as-Art dogma” series, which strung together one-liners such as “Writing in art is writing” and “Business in art is business.”) Reinhardt’s “Paints a Picture” article follows below. —Alex Greenberger

“Reinhardt Paints a Picture”
By Ad Reinhardt
March 1965

Auto-interview by the artist as three New York galleries dedicate themselves to his, respectively, black, blue and red paintings

Ad Reinhardt was born on Christmas Eve, on the eve of Europe’s entry into the first World War, the year of the climax of Cubism and the birth of abstract art, the year of the large exhibition of modern art in America, the Armory Show.

“You’re the only painter who’s been a member of every avant-garde movement in art of the last thirty years, aren’t you?” I asked him in his Greenwich Village loft-studio where Lower Broadway meets Waverly Place.

“Yes,” he said.

“You were a vanguard pre-Abstract-Expressionist in the late ’thirties, a vanguard Abstract-Impressionist in the middle of the ’forties and a vanguard post-Abstract Expressionist in the early ’fifties, weren’t you?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You were the first painter to get rid of vanguardism, weren’t you?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Are these rags here your paint rags?” I asked, pointing to some rags full of paint on the floor by the window overlooking the street.

“Yes,” he said.

Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952, oil on canvas.

©2017 THE ESTATE OF AD REINHARDT AND ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/COURTESY DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK AND LONDON/PRIVATE COLLECTION

“Is it true that for twelve years, since the early ’fifties, you’ve painted only black paintings and that for five years, since the early ’sixties, you’ve made black paintings of only one size, square, 5 feet by 5 feet?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Is this the bench you paint on, these the bottles you mix paints in, these the brushes you paint with?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You use oil on canvas, Bocour on Belgian linen?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You went around the world once, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You’re having, I see, your first three-gallery one-man show in March, or your eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth one-gallery one-man shows at the same time, is that right?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You’re showing, I hear, your pioneering and prophetic red and blue monochrome and symmetrical paintings of the early ’fifties in two galleries, and your heroic, black, square, “breakthrough” paintings of the early ’sixties in the third gallery?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You say, I have read, that you were born the year Clive Bell’s book, Art, was published and that you’ve been writing “Art-as-Art” dogma since you were thirty-nine years old?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You were twenty-nine when Henri Focillon’s The Life and Forms in Art was published and you were forty-nine when George Kubler’s The Shape of Time came out, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“This new part of your “Art-as-Art Dogma” looks like the same old thing. Are you still saying the one thing you still saying the one thing you say needs to be said over and over again and that this thing is the only thing for an artist to say?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“There’s nothing else to say?” I asked.

“No,” he said.