I met Ad Reinhardt at Hunter College in 1961, where he taught “Oriental” Art in the Graduate Art Department. I was told he focused on Japanese architecture. I was aware of his sharp wit and his black paintings, but had never met him. He was very neat, with a crew cut and a gray suit. He seemed quiet and self contained, confident, but not flamboyant. I’d see him on the street occasionally with a mysterious dark-haired woman.
In 1966–67 Reinhardt had an impressive retrospective at the Jewish Museum. I attended the opening and had a chance to speak with him. In our conversation I complimented him on the show and said, “These so called black paintings are not black at all, they are color paintings. But, looking at them on white walls is like driving with the sun in your eyes. What do you think about exhibiting them on dark gray walls?” He smiled and nodded his head in an affirmative manner, but didn’t say too much. He seemed to like the idea and had probably thought of it himself.
It seems to me the “white cathedral” doesn’t always work.
ROBERT HUOT is an artist based in New York.