Ad Reinhardt: Arte + Satira comprises over two hundred and fifty of the artist’s original political cartoons and satirical art comics and collages selected from the archives of the Estate of Ad Reinhardt in New York, on view for the first time in an Italian institution. Curated by Diana Baldon, this largely unexamined aspect of Reinhardt’s practice will be accompanied by a slide show of digitized 35 mm color photographs by the artist, as well as a number of his travel journals, sketches, and pamphlets.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, both during and after the four years he was employed by the United States Federal Art Project in the easel division as an abstract painter, Reinhardt created over 3,000 witty cartoons and cover illustrations, which appeared in a wide range of American publications. These included the periodicals New Masses, The Student Advocate, and Fight Against War and Fascism; magazines as diverse as Glamour, Listen, and Ice Cream Field; as well as baseball yearbooks and The Races of Mankind, an anti-racist pamphlet that sold over a million copies. Most notably, Reinhardt served as the staff artist for the New York daily newspaper PM beginning in 1943, producing distinctive collage-cartoons that combined hand-drawn elements with cutouts from secondhand books, a striking technique never seen in daily newspapers before.
Reinhardt’s series of full-page art comics titled “How to Look” appeared in the Sunday edition of PM every two weeks throughout 1946. Didactic in tone, the comics served as a platform for Reinhardt’s defense of the development and understanding of abstract art in America. After 1947, Reinhardt occasionally published further comics in the art periodicals ARTnews, trans/formation, and Art d’aujourd’hui, among others, in which he expressed his satirical observations of the contemporary art world at the time.
Versions of this exhibition were presented as Hard to Picture: A Tribute to Ad Reinhardt at Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2017), and as Ad Reinhardt: Art vs. History at Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland (2016), and Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2015).
Image: Ad Reinhardt, Untitled, 1943 (detail)