Green-Violet Center, 1943

Silence, timelessness, and concentration. Intense green and luminous violet pictorial elements hover radiantly in the centre of a dark ground. “The goal of art is art as art,” explained Ad Reinhardt laconically. He was not interested in a reciprocal interpenetration of art and life – the goal of many avant-gardists.

He constructed the early painting “Green-Violet Center” as a picture within a picture. A second, painted frame demarcates the colourful structure at the centre, which seems to allow a glimpse into a secret life beyond the painting’s first plane. At the top and bottom, a second dark structure, painted almost tone-in-tone, adjoins the first. The darkness successively reveals drawings. In colour, Piet Mondrian was Reinhardt’s fundamental point of reference. The "Brick Paintings" of the 1940s, to which “Green-Violet Center” also belongs, make reference to Mondrian’s “plus-minus” works, in which horizontal and vertical strokes and pictorial elements collide. The overarching principle is a neutralising, self-contained composition which creates an equilibrium among the individual elements – in other words: a perfect harmony.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

Oil on canvas
100.3 × 50.8 cm
Inv. No. 2344
Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

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