Ad Reinhardt’s “How to Look at Modern Art in America”

How To Look At Modern Art In America, 1961. Ad Reinhardt papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

How To Look At Modern Art In America, 1961. Ad Reinhardt papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The July 2, 1946 issue of New York’s highbrow tabloid P.M. carried Ad Reinhardt’s “How to Look at Modern Art in America.” It’s by a long shot the funniest, most relevant, and most caustic of the genre. I’d wager that Reinhardt knew of the Covarrubias tree in Vanity Fair, for he includes several birds, the most amusing being those two love birds, Guggenheim gate-keeper Hilla Rebay and boytoy-abstractionist Rudolf Bauer. – ArtInfo

In this famous cartoon of 1946 Ad Reinhardt tried to encapsulate the essence of the artistic modernism with its history and inherent conflicts within the American context. The tree of modern art has its roots deep in history – the Greeks are here, and so are Persian miniatures and Japanese prints. The roots represent the four pillars of Post-Impressionism: Vincent Van Gogh, George Seurat, Paul Cezanne, and Paul Gauguin. The tree is burdened by the weights of “subject matter” and “business as art patron,” and a cartoon within the cartoon mocks the perpetual debate of representation versus abstraction. By juxtaposing business and art, Reinhardt aptly comments on the situation of the avant-garde in the United States, where the public and, more importantly, the patrons were rather biased against the abstract art, often calling it “degenerate” and “subversive.” –WikiPaintings

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s