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Black Painting

Postcard from Ad Reinhardt to Frank Stella and Barbara Rose. Courtesy the Barbara Rose papers, 1940 – 1993 (bulk 1960 – 1985), Getty Research Institute, Research Library.

The black painting that I own is made up of dark brown, green, and dark violet. Those paintings are very hard to see. You often hear collectors moan about their lighting, and how much it costs them to light the painting. Obviously, it costs some of them more than it cost to buy the painting. But Reinhardt, I think, is interested in the opposite [of what I am], in terms of direct painting. I like a painting that you can see right away, something that fixes itself on your visual, not so much your imagination, just what you see. And Reinhardt is making something closer to an impressionistic

idea. He wants you to see a kind of glow, he wants the painting to sort of vibrate, down at a very, very low pitch. The ideal place to see Reinhardt’s paintings is in the studio. He has a very nice big open window, with sort of indirect daylight, and the ideal time, as he’ll tell you, is to come in the late afternoon, when the light is just right, and you can see his paintings very well. They’re quite clear, and they do vibrate, and the color is really beautiful. They’re almost impossible to light anywhere else. The show that he had, a very beautiful show, at Betty Parsons, was just hideous, you really couldn’t see…you were just too conscious of the mechanical lighting.

An edited version of an Irving Sandler interview with Frank Stella, October 26, 1962. Irving Sandler Papers, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.


Frank Stella

FRANK STELLA is an American artist based in New York.


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