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.