Ad Reinhardt’s radical abstraction, at the Juan March Foundation



Ad Reinhardt summed up his thinking with a simple and sharp phrase: “Art is art and everything else is everything else.” With this maxim, the new exhibition of the Juan March Foundation is built, which is at the same time the first monographic exhibition dedicated in Spain to the American artist, one of the most radical abstract creators of the old twentieth century, who was a member of the generation from the New York School and decisively influenced movements of great importance such as minimalism and conceptualism.

Commissioner Lynn Zelevansky proposes a comprehensive approach to her figure. Thus, the visitor will be able to see a wide selection of Reinhardt’s plastic work and, at the same time, samples of his enormous work as a teacher, illustrator, essayist, writer and cartoonist and other trades that he cultivated throughout his existence, and in those who always left their irreverent and combative mark, questioning the ideological, political and social certainties of their time.

The route of the exhibition is divided into two parts. The first is called “art is art …” and consists of 47 paintings and drawings. It is dedicated exclusively to his plastic work, which leads to a radical renunciation of any external reference. “There is something mysterious, even mystical, about Ad Reinhardt’s 60 x 60-inch square black canvases. Conceived for contemplation, they reveal themselves over time, ”says Zelevansky of the famous black paintings by Reinhardt, who died in New York in 1967 at the age of 53.

The second part of the tour, of course, is called “… and everything else is everything else”, and presents 71 books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets and other documentary material as a result of his other labors, beyond the canvas and the frames. Of particular note in this section is the series of comic strips on the history and theory of art that he published with a great deal of irony under the title ‘How to Look’ in the newspaper ‘PM’. And as a curiosity there are some of the slides that Reinhardt used in his classes and conferences … There are also phrases of his harvest, with which he synthesized his impetus: “Looking is not as easy as it seems”, “words in art they are words, ‘and so on.

“‘Everything else’ was precisely what gave him the freedom and the necessary conditions to be able to cultivate the pictorial practice of abstraction with the forcefulness and independence that we now associate with his work,” says the curatorial team in the catalog of the shows.

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