Built. Lacking. Statement


i. For an exhibition in Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles in 1963, Ad Reinhardt designed a group of barriers to prevent the audience from touching the fragile surface of his black paintings. Spans of white marble flanked the gallery creating a separation between wall and floor, which Reinhardt would describe as a “moat”1 between the viewer and painting. Reinhardt’s fortification of his work, the explicit delineation of a distance between viewer and artwork in turn reinforces a further, insurmountable distance between the viewer and the artist himself. Despite regarding this solely as a means to isolate the painting, Reinhardt nonetheless gave this ideological distance a tangible form.

ii. Comparative analysis as a method of dealing with two or more forms of cultural production. Two photographs of cowled women: Mapledurham, Oxfordshire 1969, and Bellingham, WA. 1974. The truth of this narrative is not at issue, everyone creates their own, subjective, histories.

iii. This studio has no windows and is steadily filling with smoke. Bottomless Doubt.2

iv. In ‘The Gift of Organs’ Jean Francois Lyotard pointed to an internal confliction taking place within the plastic object: an appearance of increased communicability at odds with the libidinal need that drives its production.3 One is built, one is lacking. Signs emit light, convey information, give. Paintings absorb light, thirst for meaning, take. As a current of plasma moves back and forth between two electrodes it is perpetually in motion, a chatter in stark contrast to the silence of the inert painted surface. Yet another object.

v. Declarations of finality have always been affirmative.


Neil Clements, 2009


1 Michael Corris, Ad Reinhardt (New York: Reaktion Books 2008) p.164.

2 Barbara Rose (ed), Art as Art, The Collected Writings of Ad Reinhardt, (Berkeley CA: University of California Press 1975), p.106.

3 Jean Francois Lyotard, Driftworks (New York: Semiotexte 1985), p.85.

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