Ad Reinhardt’s 12 Rules of Pure Art: Part 2

Reinhardts rules of fine art

Last week we shared the first six rules of Ad Reinhardt’s famous “12 Rules of Pure Art”. In this article we will conclude with the last six rules in Reinhardt’s list. For any viewer jumping into Part 2, below is a brief overview of Ad Reinhardt. To read the first six rules, follow the link Ad Reinhardt’s 12 Rules of Pure Art: Part 1.

Artist Ad Reinhardt lectured and wrote extensively on art during his lifetime. He was a major influence on conceptual art, minimal art and monochrome painting.  In 1957 Ad Reinhardt took up the subject of contemporary abstraction and crafted twelve rules for artists to follow in order to achieve “purity in art”. These rules are what we know as Reinhardt’s “12 Rules of Pure Art”.  The Artist believed that achieving purity in art is reached by applying rules such as no forms, no texture, no color, nothing but pure blackness.

Reinhardt’s 12 Rules of Pure Art Continued…

7) No light

Reinhardt’s rule #7 describes refraining from using light; no bright or direct light, in or over the painting. He suggests the use of dim, late afternoon light and stated that non-reflecting twilight is best in the outdoors.

8.) No space

No space. Reinhardt felt all space should be empty. Space should not project and space should not be flat. “The painting should be behind the picture frame.” The frame’s purpose is to isolate and protect the painting from its surroundings. Space divisions within the painting should not be seen.

9) No time 

No portrayal of time. Reinhardt said that there is no ancient or modern, no past or future in art. A work of art is always present. “Clock-time or man’s time is inconsequential.” Rule #9 is explains The present is the future of the past, not the past of the future.

10) No size or scale

“The breadth and depth of thought and feeling in art have no relation to physical size.” This rule implied that large sizes are aggressive, positivist, intemperate, venal and graceless.

11) No movement

Reinhardt felt that art should be still. As he wrote his 12 rules of pure art over 60 years ago, the fast-paced lives lived today would surely surprise him and add further support to this rule.“Everything is on the move. Art should be still.”

12) No object, no subject, no matter

No use of symbols, images or signs with indications of pleasure or pain. No mindless working.  No mindless non-working.

About Ad Reinhardt

Adolph “Ad” Frederick Reinhardt was an abstract painter from New York. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered on the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as abstract expressionism. Ad Reinhardt was most famous for his “black” or “ultimate” paintings.