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An Ad for Ad as Ad

Art-as-art: The Selected Writings Of Ad Reinhardt, ed. Barbara Rose (New York: Viking Press, 1975), 236 pages, illustrated.

Since the 19th century almost every artist has thought of himself or herself as an outsider. Movements like Surrealism or Abstract Expressionism are as much the result of artists’ need to operate, however marginally, within a larger group, as they are a matter of shared esthetic goals. Isolation can be a numbing experience.

Ad Reinhardt, the quintessential outsider, came into his separatist position gradually; once there, he guarded his outpost fiercely. He was originally trained not as a painter but as an art historian and esthetician. The fact that he appeared more comfortable with a book than a paint rag served later on to distance him from Cedar Bar shop-talk and professional camaraderie.

In the late ’30s, however, Reinhardt’s clean, rectilinear painting style shared

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