Ad Reinhardt

Abstract Painting Number 4, Ad Reinhardt, 1961

There is quite a bit about Ad Reinhardt that resonates with this project. Thomas B. Hess saw Reinhardt as being an “inventor of patterns, not of forms”, which is interesting to consider in relation to the Zombie Formalist generative approach and the notion of pattern as form. There is also the emphasis on the square in his later work, and also his adherence to near  invisibility due to extreme low contrast (as in image above). In viewing such dark images on my display I realized my reflection was much more dominant than the content, which plays nicely with the machine that watches the viewer.

The focus on timelessness and universality is interesting and Claudine Humblet in The New American Abstraction (1950–1970), asserts that Reinhardt’s work “rediscovers a certain origin of the mystery of creation”. This is an interesting mirror of my interests in computation and generative art in relation to origination. For Reinhardt, “pure painting” should be devoid of emotional and intellectual content and whose meaning is not detachable or translatable, independent, which may be the case in the meaningless works of the ZF. The notion of the New Academy emphasizes a lack of texture, brushwork or calligraphy, sketching or drawing, forms, design, colours, light, space, time, size or scale, movement, object, subject, matter which seems quite aligned with the ZF.

There is also Ad Reinhardt’s rejection of commercialism and assertion that art should be useless that is interesting in the context of the ZF being a pure generator, but one constrained and shaped by the whims and behaviour of the viewer, disrupting the random processes and perhaps enabling scarcity. The ZF could be somehow both an example of a “pure” art, but also an anti-pure art.