My own Reinhardt Marc Emory
I own a study of blue rectangles done by Reinhardt in 1952. My grandmother, the late Ethel Epstein of New York, was a patron of artists of her era. She owned a couple of bronze sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, which, sadly were sold when she died in 1966. This Reinhardt has been in my family since 1952, when it was painted. The problems in conservation mentioned by Mary Webb are indeed an issue, but the colors remain vibrant, and I still get a thrill seeing it when I make it back to our Dallas office, where it hangs.
What is the artistic intent for "Inspecting Carol", and the concept?
Ad Reoinhardt exhibitions and correspondencedorothy koppelman
Ad Reinhardt enjoyed showing his work in two or three exchibitions during the first decade of the Terrain Gallery: he showed in "The Festival of Opposites" most notably, a show organized on the basic principle of this Aesthetic Realism allery. Eli Siegel's statment: "tn reality opposites are one; art shows this." Reinhardt gave me explicit directions about how to show his black paintings, with not too much light so that the full values of the underpainting could be seen, without glare.
Conserving Reinhardt's Work
Mary Webb (04/05/2001)
Extracts from a NY Times article on April 5,2001 Conservators Struggle When Modern Art Shows Its Age ART By CAROL VOGEL Where do you turn when the 1960's fluorescent cherry-red bulb in a Dan Flavin installation burns out? What's to be done when the rubber used in an Eva Hesse construction begins to crumble? How do you restore an all-black Ad Reinhardt painting damaged so badly that it has visible blotches and scratches? In their quest to preserve 20th-century artworks, curators and conservators are riveted by issues of authenticity and obsolescence, artistic intent and interpretation. While science and technology have made it easier to restore an old master painting damaged by water or sunlight, some paintings — monochromatic works from the 1960's, like Reinhardt's, for example — pose special problems. And the nature of some more recent works — collage, conceptual art, performance and video art and installations that use unorthodox materials or simple technology in unexpected ways — can be a curator's nightmare. ....they asked, could all kinds of art from the last century be preserved? The question is a hot one at museums around the country, as institutions ranging from Harvard University to the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Guggenheim grapple with the conservation of contemporary art. At New York University the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts is announcing $1.95 million in grants, some of which is to be used to train art conservators. At Harvard, officials are establishing a Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art. The Whitney has a $5 million grant to support conservation and is starting its own conservation department. The initiatives at Harvard and the Whitney will be run by Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, a leading expert on conserving modern art. James Coddington, chief conservator at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, said that "as the number of collectors of contemporary art increase and the values go up, these issues are becoming ever more pressing." Across town from the Guggenheim, at the museum's conservation studio, Carol Stringari, senior conservator of contemporary art, was examining a classic black painting executed from 1960 to 1966 by Reinhardt, who died in 1967. It looks like every other Reinhardt from that late period: a geometric pattern of nine squares in subtle variations of black. On closer inspection, many blemishes are visible, like a large blotch resulting from poor restoration on the lower right and two long vertical scratches at the top right. An even closer look with a microscope and ultraviolet light reveals other blemishes and a slightly cloudy spray that had been applied to the surface. Some of the damage to "Black Painting" occurred when the canvas was in transit several years ago. The AXA Nordstern Art Insurance Corporation deemed the harm to be irreparable. A black Reinhardt from the same period in pristine condition would fetch about $2 million today, experts say. Unsure what to do with the painting, the company donated it to the Guggenheim Museum Study Collection, which is exploring new technologies for conserving monochromatic surfaces. The painting is now part of a two-year study pairing conservation teams from the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art and financed by AXA Nordstern. "Most conservators don't want to touch monochromatic paintings," Ms. Stringari said. "There's a level of forgiveness in conserving a traditional painting that you don't get working with flat planes of color." ....... In the case of Reinhardt's canvas, Ms. Stringari and Mr. Coddington said, the opportunity to use a work from his famous series of black paintings was invaluable. The conservation issues range from undoing a poor earlier restoration to trying to recreate unusual materials. Reinhardt's surfaces are extremely delicate and the mildest solvents tend to do damage, so conservators are considering several methods of removing the misty coating that was applied in that earlier restoration. One method is enzymatic digestion, in which an enzyme is tailored to break down the overpainting. Another relies on laser technology to delicately remove the coating without affecting what lies beneath it. The Reinhardts are especially difficult to work with because the artist routinely poured turpentine into commercial oil paint and then let the mixture sit until it separated like milk and cream. Then he would pour off the top and use what would remained, a powdery substance that dried to a suedelike consistency. His effect is nearly impossible to imitate; Ms. Stringari has tried. Working on a Reinhardt painting that has been written off as irreparably damaged allows conservators to test possible solutions without worrying about ruining the work. "Now we can use a substantial portion of the painting to determine whether or not an experimental treatment is possible," Ms. Stringari said. Added Mr. Coddington: "This is one of the future old masters. Now it's up to us to be responsible for it."