“Contrary to what past scholarship has concluded about Reinhardt’s singular focus on the black square until his death in 1967 … these prints and the associated ideas about multiplicity marked a distinct chapter in his artistic output and development, thereby disputing the long-held thesis that his black pictures marked the denouement of his conceptual and perceptual theories.” (Elizabeth Reede)
Ad Reinhardt first came to critical attention in the early 1950’s and gained wider renown in the early 1960’s with his five-by-five foot so-called ‘black’ paintings. He made his first editioned print in 1964 when he contributed a silkscreen to the portfolio, “Ten Works by Ten Painters,” curated by Sam Wagstaff, published by the Wadsworth Atheneum (where Wagstaff worked) in Hartford, Connecticut, and printed with Ives-Sillman in New Haven (who had trained under Josef Albers).
In 1966, the Atheneum published “10 Screenprints by Ad Reinhardt” (also printed with Ives-Sillman). The ten works have Reinhardt’s iconic compositions of bars, squares, and T’s of almost imperceptibly varied hues. A viewer, only by seeing the juxtaposed areas of color, can recognize these variations. Critical to the appreciation of what Reinhardt did, is that the screenprints have a smooth and matte surface with crisp edges, something that the artist worked long and hard in his paintings to attain.
“A picture is finished when all the traces of the means used to bring about the end has disappeared.” (J.M. Whistler as quoted by Reinhardt)
“It is for this reason, perhaps, that the screen printing process suited Reinhardt so very well.” (Elizabeth Reede)