And here we are looking at Ad Reinhardt's 1963 Abstract Painting. One in that series of so called Abstract Paintings, the so called black paintings, done almost exclusively between 1960 and 67. These black squares, three by three grid of primary colors. And well, here we are with one of the many ironies of Reinhardt's work. Even with quite sophisticated lighting and camera, you are probably struggling right now to distinguish this from just a black square. So let me describe to you what I'm seeing. Fortunately, we're going to look at this painting with a couple other lighting angles So you'll be able to see certain things that maybe actually Reinhardt didn't want you to see. We can talk about that later. But we'll take advantage of this opportunity to really walk around this painting and see some interesting things about it. But the way that Reinhardt intended you to see this painting certainly is not something that you're capable of doing right now sitting at home in front of your laptop or what have you. Now the way that my eyes work, looking at this painting, is that even from this distance, I'm seeing, well probably the same thing you are, a black square. As times goes by, as I'm looking at the painting and not at the wall, not shifting my eyes back and forth, but really just looking at the painting and letting my rods and cones fire and adjust at will. Gradually, I start to see zones of color emerge. And in the case of this painting, I'm seeing a green band across the center of the painting, a very dark green, a very, very extremely low value green, but a green band all the way across the center of the painting. The four corners are red and midway along the top and bottom edges are found blue boxes. Now, this period of time that I've just been talking to you. I'm beginning to see exactly that. If I were to stand here longer and longer and longer, my rods and cones would adjust further the same way when you get out of bed in the middle of the night looking for the bathroom. In the beginning, it's pitch-black. Slowly, you start to see the nightstand that you're about to stub your toe into, and etc. It's the same exact phenomena here as your eye slowly adjusts to color, very, very deep color. But it is exactly that, extraordinarily low chroma, low value, primary colors and this is really the palette as we've heard already that Reinhardt was working with exclusively in this late period of his life. Now, as we approach the painting here, we start to get a sense of the surface. We realize that this is one of the mattest paintings you've ever seen in your life. Shifting into this extreme raking light view for a moment, we're cheating in a way. We're looking at this painting in a way that Reinhardt would never want you to look at it, but what we can see here is that even in raking light, there's very, very little surface gloss apparent. In fact, there's almost no brushstrokes apparent and Reinhardt, quite the opposite of say an artist like Robert Ryman, has removed the brushstroke entirely. And, remember, it's only ten years previous that painting Number 107 when the entire painting was calligraphic and gestural and the entire lexicon of the painting was the brushstroke. And here we are, 180 degrees from that moment. Now, returning again to the face of the painting, we can learn a couple things about the matte quality of that surface. Well, first of all, the matteness of it, the lack of gloss allows you to read that color very, very precisely. Had there been a sheen of, well, say a varnish in an extreme situation, or a decent amount of linseed oil in a more regular situation, we'd be reflecting light and perhaps objects around us in this room because on a black surface any amount of gloss becomes quite reflective. And rather than seeing these very, very subtle transitions between primary colors we'd be seeing, well in this case you might be seeing the camera or the lights that I can see right now. And that are around me in this room. Rather, Reinhardt has taken all that gloss out, because he's taken almost all of that linseed oil out with that medium extraction, that we'll have a look at momentarily down in the studio. Now, the reason that he's done that has a couple effects. One of them is largely chromatic as we've described already. Another one and one that he was certainly aware of was that his paint surfaces are extremely vulnerable. The reason why is that that linseed oil, the stuff that provides that gloss, also provides the structural integrity of a paint film. It's the reason why if you touch a typical oil painting, and you take your finger away, don't try this at any museum, you might head to jail, you're not going to see a fingerprint most likely. In fact, you're probably not going to do any damage at all, probably. In this case, it's quite the opposite situation I can wash my hands in the bathroom and come here. And if I were to just gently touch the surface of this painting, I would leave a saturated black spot. Because this paint film is so thirsty, if you will, it's so dry. Because he's essentially painting with pure pigment. He's leached out all that medium, that Reinhardt's paint surface would absorb even that residual bit of finger grease that I have and would leave a black glossy spot which would totally disrupt the all over effect of this surface. In addition, it would proudly announce exactly where that pictorial surface is, which of course would run totally counter to these kind of field affects that Reinhardt is working with, these zones of color. That slowly advance and recede either into or away from your viewing space. Again, the function of our old friend Hans Hofmann and push and pull which of course is a function of color temperature. Reinhardt has now just brought that down to its slowest and most subtlest variation so that in fact to be able to see this painting as it were. Without the aid of these strong raking light images, to see what I'm talking about requires time, it requires patience, it requires an investment in this painting itself. I can tell you on most days, people walk by this painting they glance at it the same way that you might glance at a painting as you're walking through a huge museum like MoMA. Or if you�re at the Louvre, an amazing museum, you're walking by masterpieces left and right, perhaps you don't even notice because you're trying to find the Mona Lisa. Well the same thing happens in this museum all the time. Reinhardt knew it would in fact in many museums where you see these Black paintings. And the vast majority of people don't see the composition of this painting, to see it requires an investment and for Reinhardt this carried moral implications. The purity of art is something that you had to almost expunge everything else out of your life to really get to for Reinhardt. In a way, he's lifted this basketball hoop so high, but if he can get there, the dunk is amazing. Most people can't get there. Most people don't have time to invest, to be able to get there but if you do. If your able to you know cut out all those distractions that of course every museum-goer is subject to text messages in your cell phone, kid crashing into you all this commotion around. Only if you're able to get rid of all of that do you even have a chance of really seeing how this painting is meant. To work and how it can function in a very experiential way. Which is to say that Reinhardt has raised the bar very very high. So high in fact that almost no one gets the chance to have that experience. Here we are in an empty gallery, well lucky me, I can have that experience now. But even you, looking through the camera here, can't. And if you hear someone quietly cackling in the background, well, that's probably Ad Reinhardt, because he loved the fact that you couldn't reproduce his paintings. Even when people tried to write articles about Reinhardt, and by the '60s, he was relatively well-known, when people tried to take photographs of his paintings in a way that would carry the composition in a legible way in print it was always a failure. By the way the reason that you're struggling with that right now is in a way intentional. Reinhardt didn't want the commercial aspect of photography to have any relationship to his painting. He wanted to make a paint, so exquisitely only about painting what paint can do when it meets the eye. That a camera becomes almost useless, including this video camera through which you're looking as we speak right now. Shifting gears to look at the frame for a moment, you'll notice that, again, this is an artist's frame very much like the previous Reinhardt. We looked at, so that even art handlers hanging this painting, holding it on the edges, well guess what? You have iterations and iterations and iterations of fingerprints and handprints all over the face, certainly the sides of the painting, and probably the face of the painting as well. So by handling the frame with hopefully gloves, white gloves, cotton gloves, Reinhardt knew that he could avoid some of those damages with his own frame. However, the frame also functions aesthetically. It's a very matte paint, not quite as matte as the painting itself. But Reinhardt has essentially made a transition from the blackness, the darkness, the deepness of the painting and the whiteness of the wall via this frame, which is really nothing spectacular to look at. But again, he's made a neutral barrier around this painting. So that your eye is not so distracted by that harsh whiteness of the wall which would of course impede your rods and cones from adjusting to the darkness of the painting. So, in other words, an artist's frame, a frame that was conceived of very specifically for the painting that it becomes attached to, and by the way it's one of the reasons why this frame remains on this painting today. Where so many other frames have been swapped out and replaced with frames of, the flavor of the month, if you will.