Ad Reinhardt
Blue Paintings

Ad Reinhardt: Blue Paintings, organized by the Ad Reinhardt Foundation, will present the largest number of the artist’s “blue” paintings ever shown together. Drawn exclusively from museum and private collections, this will be the first exhibition devoted entirely to this body of work since the artist’s 1965 solo show at the Stable Gallery, New York, over fifty years ago. This presentation will focus on works made between 1950 and 1953, in addition to related earlier canvases from the 1940s.


The perceptual demands of these compelling works are intense and reward sustained looking: the blues in Reinhardt’s paintings appear to change before one’s eyes, influenced by subtle shifts in color within each canvas and in neighboring works. Reinhardt paired tones of blue that are so similar that it may take minutes to see they are not the same, creating resonant compositions that challenge the limits of perception. In bringing these works together, this exhibition will afford a rare opportunity to experience one of the greatest twentieth-century painters thinking in color.


The Ad Reinhardt Foundation would like extend its deep gratitude to the many generous lenders who have made this unprecedented exhibition possible. Ad Reinhardt: Blue Paintings, which is free and open to the public, will introduce a new audience to these iconic works, and has already contributed immensely to the study of the artist’s oeuvre. 


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Above, from left to right: Abstract Painting, 1950-51. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 78 1/4 x 24 inches (198.8 x 61 cm). Private Collection, Courtesy Pace Gallery. Blue Painting, 1951-1953. Oil on canvas. 80 x 59 7/8 inches (203.2 x 152.1 cm). Private Collection, Europe. No. 15, 1952. Oil on canvas. 110 9/16 x 42 1/2 inches (280.8 x 108 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1958, K1958:42. All artwork © 2017 The Ad Reinhardt Foundation









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Ad Reinhardt
"Abstract Art Refuses,” 1952. Handwritten statement by Ad Reinhardt. First published in the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition "Contemporary American Painting," University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, 1952.

Barbara Rose writes in the introduction to Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt, "Reinhardt defended abstract art both as an aesthetic and as a moral cause." In the 1952 text "Abstract Art Refuses," Reinhardt wrote: "One can find some of painting’s meanings by looking not only at what painters do but at what they refuse to do." Read the full text in the artist's Guide.

Ad Reinhardt working in his studio. Photo © 1966 John Loengard.
Exhibition announcement for three concurrent exhibitions organized by Ad Reinhardt at the Betty Parsons Gallery, the Graham Gallery, and the Stable Gallery, March 1965.

"Before the viewer can shrug his shoulders and walk away, something stops him. He becomes mesmerized, sensing there is more to come. Gradually, subtly varying hues in rectangular or square shapes emerge from the monochrome and begin to play with, and against, each other. What seemed an inert mass is transformed into light, and these ‘quietist paintings,’ as Reinhardt calls them, become alive.”—Newsweek, March 15, 1965

Blue Painting, 1953. Oil on canvas. 24 x 16 inches (60.9 x 40.6 cm). Private Collection; Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952. Oil on canvas. 18 x 14 inches (45.7 x 35.5 cm). Private Collection; Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952. Oil on canvas. 24 x 12 inches (61 x 30.5 cm). Private Collection. All artwork © 2017 The Ad Reinhardt Foundation
Ad Reinhardt in his studio, 1953. Works on view in the current exhibition include Number 88, 1950 (Blue), 1950 (far left; now in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (far left); and No. 15, 1952 (directly to the left of the artist; now in the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo). Artwork © Ad Reinhardt Foundation. Photo © Walter Rosenblum.

The Ad Reinhardt Foundation is gathering information about all known works of art by Ad Reinhardt in public and private collections for a multivolume catalogue raisonné. To submit information, please download a PDF of the catalogue raisonné questionnaire at or contact the Foundation at or (212) 691 2205.