What is Fine Art? A Legendary Artist’s Take

Ad Reinhardt was a legend in his time and still is a legend today. While some of his views have not always been the most popular, widely accepted views, they are still highly revered even today. He had a classic way of teaching his opinions and views of art. Over the years, some artists have found Reinhardt’s bordering the line of offensive, but he still retained the respect he deserved as a teacher of art.

Fine art can only be defined as exclusive, negative, absolute and timeless. It is not practical, useful, related, applicable or subservient to anything else. Fine art has its own thought, its own history and tradition, its own reason, its own discipline. It has its own “integrity” and not someone else’s “integration” with something else.

A foundational concept that Reinhardt lectured on was the “Academy of Fine Art” and it’s purpose was “to give certain rules to our art and render it pure.”

Reinhardt believed that Fine Art and paintings were the highest and freest forms of all art works. He said that the first rule of Fine Art and painting is based on the purity of the art.

According to Reinhardt, “the more uses, relations and “additions” a painting has, the less pure it is. The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is.” The artist firmly stood on the concept that “More is less.”

He believed that Fine Art should be emptied and purified of all “other-than-art-meanings” and that any museum of fine art should contain nothing but fine art. In creating fine art the Artist believed one should focus less on thinking in artistic terms, and instead think in non-artist terms. Exploit what is easy less, use common skills less. The less an Artist exploits the easy, common skills, the more of an artist he is.

Fine art is not “a means of making a living” or “a way of living a life.” Art that is a matter of life and death cannot be fine or free art. An artist who dedicates his life to art, burdens his art with his life and his life with his art.

Thoughts for this article come from Ad Reinhardt’s “Twelve Rules for a New Academy”