Alex Zafiris on Ad Reinhardt:

I’m both interested and defensive about seeing Ad Reinhardt’s Blue Paintings at David Zwirner. Reinhardt was a bully for Purism, denouncing all work that found basis in self-expression, style, or purpose. He was heavily active in the 1940s and 50s as a painter, and also a controversial writer and cartoonist. Everything he said and did swirled around his vision of “Art-as-Art” and nothing else. He wanted to rid all evidence of the outside world from his work, saying in 1964, “I picked up the idea of imagelessness myself in Islamic art, Byzantine iconoclasm, and the Puritanism and––well, the ancient Hebraic and Islamic distrust of images.” According to him, even the having of ideas is primitive. So I disagree with him quite strongly, but in another sense, I believe him. Perhaps he really was complicit with something much larger that endures still, and is present and alive on these canvasses

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Jason Farago on Paul Klee

A photomontage here by Josef Albers shows the Swiss artist at the Bauhaus, gazing at Albers’s lens with smoldering concentration. But Klee’s final drawings exhibit instead a bewildered detachment, each asserting the need for irony in a world governed by madmen. In the drawing “Ungeheuer in Bereitschaft (Monsters in Readiness),” a cavalcade of ghoulish stick figures, with lumpish heads and stigmata-like eyes, stumbles forward like a pathetically untrained army. Klee pictured the Europeans of 1939 in a manner not unlike the Americans of 2019: petulant, belligerent, strung out, sleepwalking.

Jason Farago on Paul Klee’s drawings at Zwirner.