Reinhardt, Mondrian & Color

Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches (Muse
Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Blue, 1952, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, © Estate of Ad Reinhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

In an article from a special issue devoted to Ad Reinhardt, Margit Rowell examines the similarities and differences in Mondrian and Reinhardt's approaches to color.

Rowell writes: "For Reinhardt, as for Mondrian, the penultimate experiment with non-color incited a return to vibrant primary hues. But Mondrian combined the primaries within a single composition, while Reinhardt restricted himself in each painting to chromatic variations on a single hue. The return to limited color brought with it an increased and explicit attention to light. Mondrian trapped light on his surface through the textural fabric of his brushwork. However, texture and brush-stroke carried connotations of the 'handwriting' of Abstract Expressionism for Reinhardt. Thus he thinned his paint radically, superimposing layer upon layer of color, until not a trace of hand or brush remained. Still, an incandescent glow emerges from the depths of the resulting color haze. 'Not colored light,” as Reinhardt wrote in 1966 to Sam Hunter, 'but color that gives off light.' "