Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Ad Reinhardt

With a Preface by Dore Ashton

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Ad Reinhardt

With a Preface by Dore Ashton
Diego Rivera, Dorothea Lange, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel: Art and activism have long been intertwined, and the political fallout has resulted in an artistic canon riddled with historical holes. One of the most glaring omissions from most listings of American art masters is Ad Reinhardt (1913–67). An artist who had significant ties to the American Communist movement and leftist political organizations, Reinhardt and his contributions to modern art have been largely pushed out of the spotlight for political reasons. But in this unprecedented in-depth study of Reinhardt’s life and work, Michael Corris returns the artist to his rightful place in the history of modern art and culture.

A pioneering avant-garde artist with fierce political beliefs, Reinhardt immersed himself in the vibrant left-wing political and cultural circles of the 1930s and ’40s, only to be marginalized by the social and cultural conservatism that arose in postwar America. Corris examines Reinhardt’s work against this historical background, charting the development of his entire oeuvre, ranging from his abstract paintings to his popular graphic artwork, illustrations and cartoons. Ad Reinhardt also re-evaluates Reinhardt’s role and influence in the art world, chronicling his time as an artist and educator at the California School of Fine Arts, University of Wyoming, Yale University, and Hunter College, and examining his influence on younger artists who created successive avant-garde movements such as minimal and conceptual art.

A long-awaited examination of a less-heralded American master, Ad Reinhardt is a fascinating portrait of an artist whose political radicalism infused his art with a poignant resonance that stretches, through this rediscovery, into the present.

256 pages | 6 1/2 x 9 4/5 | © 2008

Art: Art--Biography

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


“Because of his background as a conceptual artist, designer, and art historian, Michael Corris is wonderfully equipped to undertake a thoroughgoing art historical analysis of Reinhardt’s work, and he does so with great sensitivity and thoughtful analysis, employing a wide-angle lens that takes into consideration Reinhardt’s forays in the areas of popular and fine art as well as politics and culture.”

Robert Hobbs, Virginia Commonwealth University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dore Ashton
Introduction: ’Starting over at the beginning’
1. ’Every person is a special kind of artist’
2. Cartoons and Communists
Public Art and Public Media
Comrade Cubist
The Origins of ’Art-as-Art’
Comrade Ad
3. ’Painting-Reason’ and ’Picture-Purpose’
Abstract Art for Society’s Sake
The Inconsolable Polymath
Collage as Destruction
’Painting is more than the scum of its pots’: Beyond Formalism
4. The Intellectual Gift of the Post-Historic Artist
’Blue in art is blue. Red in art is red. Yellow in art is yellow. Dark gray in art is not dark gray’: Aesthetics and Indeterminacy
’How to make Modern Art in America: Fifteen Years Later’
Perfection and the End of Art
Neither Secular nor Sacred
Systems of Strife
5. ’An Invasion of the Ultimate’
6. ’Every Dogma has its Day’
’The re-reformation of formalism’
’A dark flame, fog forming in the unformed’: Responsive Eyes
Unfinished Business
The Success of Failure
7. Reinhardt and the Art of the Sixties
Empty Devices, Dead Diagrams and Invisible Spectacles
8. Political Art and Political Power
The Artist as Citizen
Art and Resistance
9. Reinhardt’s Difficult Freedom
Artist’s Chronology

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press