Non-Happening after Ad Reinhardt by Pierre Leguillon, with Seth Siegelaub
Thursday 24 November 2011, 7pm

For this special presentation French artist Pierre Leguillon showed 350 slides that were used in performance lectures by New York abstract painter Ad Reinhardt (1913–1967). Leguillon then discussed Reinhardt with Conceptual Art pioneer Seth Siegelaub, who as an art dealer in New York in the 1960s knew Reinhardt and shared with him an interest in Islamic art.


Ad Reinhardt is best known for his black monochromes, or ‘ultimate paintings’, to which he devoted himself during the 1960s. Also well known are the satirical comic strips and illustrations he made for Art News magazine and the leftwing newspaper PM. However, little is documented about the artist’s archive of 10,000 photographic slides, now held by the Ad Reinhardt Foundation in New York.


From eyewitness accounts it has been established that Reinhardt’s slide shows consisted of a rapid succession of details of art, decorative art and architecture, photographed during his many travels abroad. Constructing a formal analysis of artistic creation over centuries, they seemed to follow George Kubler’s hypothesis in The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things that there is no progress in art. By framing his shots so as to reveal hidden or overlooked aspects of cultural artefacts, Reinhardt also offered a global ‘reading’ of the history of art, anticipating today’s image search engines.


For the London chapter of this event, Leguillon invited Seth Siegelaub, who in the mid-1960s let Reinhardt consult his collection of books on oriental rugs shortly before they joined the library of Asia House in New York. Their discussion highlighted the fact that Reinhardt’s slides, beyond their author’s acknowledged role as a leading proponent of Abstract Expressionism and a precursor of Minimal Art, can be seen as a missing link in a history that leads from Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1924–1929) to similar archival endeavours by Charles Eames, Sol LeWitt and Gerhard Richter.




Seth Siegelaub (b. 1941, USA) lives and works in Amsterdam. A prominent art dealer, independent exhibitions organiser, publisher, political researcher and textile bibliographer, he is best known for his pivotal role in the emergence of Conceptual Art in the 1960s through his projects with artists such as Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner.


With the kind support of the Ad Reinhardt Foundation, New York.

Special thanks to Rita Reinhardt, Anna Reinhardt and Susan Sabiston.