Black Piainting
Black Piainting

Another artist Susan so admired the snowy day in December when we gallery hopped was Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967).

Ad Reinhardt and Tony Smith: A Dialogue” December 12, 2008 — January 24, 2009 at the PaceWildenstein gallery on 57th Street.

Reinhardt is best known for his “black paintings,” which are not black when you stand up close and look at the brush strokes. Susan stood close to one painting for many more minutes than I did. The blackness fascinated her. “It’s not really black.”

She laughed and called me over to re-inspect the black canvas, which she compared to her own work. “People  are saying my new photgrpahs are dark.  Sometimes too dark. But in comparision to his painting they’re light.”

Yes, the canvas was composed of black and nearly black shades.  Not simply black as Susan noted.  I guess, the paintings asked if there is such a thing as absolute blackness. No, there isn’t: according to Reinhardt at least.

A few of the black canvases were mounted like reliefs, jutting about an inch off a lighter background canvas.

Reinhardt was an abstract painter, active in New York between the 30s and 60s, during the abstract expressionist movement.  To read more about him right now visit

At Pace Wildenstein, what caught me was the Reinhardt quote mounted on the wall next to the elevator:. “Art is art and everything else is everything else.”

Like Susan, I related Reinhardt to my work.  He believed visual arts were diminishing to the status of a commercial trading commodity.  In my novel THE FIDDLE CASE, the charcter’s journey across America in 1972 chronicles folk music’s transition from creative process to commodity.

Reinhardt wonderful quote:: “art is art.everything else is everthing else.”

Susan May Tell’s webpage