Untitled

  • Ad Reinhardt, Untitled, 1937, oil on wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost, 1986.92.74

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Ad Reinhardt wanted to create work “about which no questions can be asked” and did not intend for his images to represent anything except themselves (“25 lines of words on art statements,” in Rose, ed., Art-as-Art, 1975). Here, he focused on the surface of the canvas to create a two-dimensional pattern from lines, geometric shapes, and blocks of color. Many American artists of the 1930s were involved in the nation’s political debates, but as another world war loomed they became disillusioned with the idea that art could “change people’s minds.” Some, like Reinhardt, turned to abstract compositions of lines and forms that carried no message. This painting’s small size intensifies its energetic colors and brushstrokes, as if the tightly packed shapes might burst free at any moment. The warm oranges, reds, and browns contrast with the cooler, grayer hues, highlighting the areas where shapes and colors overlap.

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“The intellectual and emotional content [of my paintings] are in what the lines, colors, and spaces do.” Reinhardt, 1944, ACA Magazine, quoted in Lippard, Ad Reinhardt, 1981

Title
Untitled
Artist
Date
1937
Location
Dimensions
5 1/4 x 14 in. (13.3 x 35.6 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on wood
Classifications
Keywords
  • Abstract
Object Number
1986.92.74
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI