How to paint like Ad Reinhardt – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO

(lighthearted music) Voiceover: You’re looking at one
of Ed Reinhardt’s black paintings but actually there is no
black on this painting. What may first appear as an all over
black square, actually is a grid. A three by three grid
of well, nine squares and each square contains
an intensely deep shade of either red, green or blue. One could call this chromatic
blacks or colored blacks because at the four
corners of the painting, we see actually a deep shade of red. Across the center of the painting
we see a very deep green. In midway, along the top and bottom
edges we find a very deep blue. Now if you don’t see this at
first, there’s a reason for it because even in front of
the painting in the gallery perceiving this painting is a
function of the rods and cones adjusting in your eye. It’s actually the same experience you have when waking up in the middle of the night. When at first everything
is black and then gradually as your rods and cones adjusts,
color forms slowly, gradually emerge. Perceiving this composition takes time, it takes patience and it takes attention. Ad Reinhardt was actually very, very
interested in exactly those qualities for he’s not to purify art
and the experience of it. Reinhardt wanted to keep art
and business totally separate. He relished the fact that these
paintings are almost impossible to reproduce in photography. Reinhardt was in the abstract
expressionist circle. However the paint qualities that
you associate with that movement are totally lacking in Reinhardt,
and there’s a reason for that. Reinhardt was an oppositional figure. If he knew that he were lumped in
with the abstract expressionists, he would cringe at the thought. (lighthearted music) Ad Reinhardt’s painting process
was a very individualistic one, a very unique one and he never
made a mystery of his technique like so many other New
York school painters did. Corey: The first step in preparing
this exquisite matte quality paint is actually involving these jars here. Interestingly his materials, despite the fact that his
paintings look so odd and unique, his materials are straight up classical. Nothing more than oil paint
out of the tube and turpentine, the typical solvent for all oil painting. What he would typically do is to
use quite a bit of mars black paint. To that entire quantity he
would add just a little bit of one of the three colors he
painted with: red, green and blue. Next a generous dose of turpentine. What I’m doing now is making sure
that that oil paint is dissolving into that turpentine
very, very thoroughly. Reinhardt would then leave this jars on
his shelves in his studio for a week, for two weeks, for perhaps a month. The reason for that waiting period
is that the dense part of the paint, in other words the pigment,
would settle to the bottom. Meanwhile the light part of that
mixture would rise to the top. What is the light part? Well it’s the turpentine
that he just added. Now the oil, the binder
from that tube of paint now extracted from that pigment,
lifted up to the top of this jar. What he would do next is
this, he would open the jar and then pour off all of that
solvent phase if you will or all that light part
of the paint mixture. Leaving behind only that sludge of paint. (lighthearted music) Voiceover: Because Reinhardt has
withdrawn so much medium from his paint, the resulting paint surfaces are
almost free of any trace of brush work. In addition, they are the most matte
paint surfaces you will probably ever see. Because there’s no gloss, because
there’s no reflection on that surface there’s no other light
hitting us in the eye. In other words, we have the
opportunity to perceive color directly. Reinhardt was by far in a way the most subtle colorist of the
abstract expressionist painters. His use of color was so subtle, in fact, that it’s on the
very threshold of perception. To see these painting we quite
literally have to slow down the pace of every day life. His paintings demand our
patience and close looking. (lighthearted music)


  • KnivesOnly

    In art the first project we did was using colored pencils and make this picture. I didn't finish it..

  • Forouzandeh Taheri

    please do your painting so we see and also talk. beginning of video we see black canvas.

  • demonherz

    so cool!!!

  • sqosh12

    I could of swore I heard that there was no black in the original painting (0:16) but didn't the narrator just squeeze an entire tube of Mars BLACK into the container (2:31)when demonstraiting how Reinhardt made his mystical pigment? Am I missing something?

  • Takhs apo ta Kalavryta

    well, this is stupid

  • HirachieOfSociety

    The idea behind is cool, but the fact that this will sell for the same price as the Mona Lisa is kinda stupid.

  • Person McPersonface


  • Deronoth

    Has anyone ever painted an actual picture with this technique? That would be cool

  • TheTerminalExpress

    I saw one of these at the University of Iowa Museum of Art…in the same room as Pollocks Mural.


    He learned from ´Paint´.

  • Learner-Learns

    THANK YOU for enlightening the populace about this often misunderstood artist.
    This entire "terms" series is excellent!

  • abe snorkel

    hilarious: "quite a bit of mars black…."

  • ThePIPdesign

    Rods don't detect color my man,only Cones

  • ThePIPdesign

    Rods don't detect color my man,only Cones,very interesting though

  • Tremori

    soooo its black paint with slight color

  • Xacbeef

    I don't know about the paint/solvent/removal of much of the oil technique, but I can tell you that many painters have used these chromatic blacks. Some painters don't use any black pigment at all, and prefer to mix their own blacks from various dark pigments. The effect can be really beautiful.

  • JerseyDave616

    Even at 1080p, the video still has artifacts and sucks. Way to go.

  • MrStevie57

    Reminds me of the question Why is it art? answer. Because an artist painted it. lol.

  • JBL Creations

    you say that there was no black in them.. yet you add black to your paint..

    wouldn't you make your own "black" first then add the strongest color you want to come through?

  • Acquavallo

    wo cool. I never knew this guy. I like him though

  • autoimmune hammerheadsharks

    THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this.
    I had Art since 1940's history from Charles Gaines and he made sure to cover Ad and mention certain things (like being more of an artist the AEs looked up to, or that he taught, but he was NOT an AE). I remember being inspired by the neutrality of his grey paintings

  • FingerMyPizza

    At first I was like… rolling my eyes…… But then after he explained it.. my reaction was ooooooh thats so clever.

  • TheHaystack

    He must have hated colorblind people… 

  • rd264

    alot 'o bs – just enjoy the art, dont try to write about it- if its good it will do the talking…

  • T Lee

    that was amazingly educational. loved it.

  • Laurel Sheridan

    Interesting. Puts me in mind of The Emperor's New Clothes.

  • Flying Fantastic

    This is great. Just a shame that this painting is exhibited at Tate Liverpool with a pane of glass in front of it reflecting all the light and images from around the gallery.

  • Imperious Images

    Great explanation and presentation.

  • Aleksandra .Caldovic

    Great video! What is the proportion of black and red (green, blue)?

  • gavin fitzsimons

    its a black square, end of story

  • Tom Lynch

    Top notch job and explanation! Thank you!

  • Jimmy Sa

    this is just a black painting f u

  • Borinken Lotus

    The technique is more interesting than the composition i say but I'm glad it exist for those how want to take color to the next level.

  • John Bonner

    I am very glad that I saw this video. I have tried and tried to understand what makes these painters "artists," and what makes them special. I thought maybe there were some techniques or fine details that I was missing. It turns out that there really is nothing special about these "color field" paintings. It is a black painting with some slightly different blacks to pretend that this is not just a black painting. Using slightly different blacks convinces art analysts that what we are looking at color that was so "subtle in fact that it was on the very threshold of perception." There is no texture either, which is supposedly special, but the technique described is essentially making a dye out of paint.
    Apparently the idea is that it is similar to "waking up in the morning," in that your eyes have to adjust to even detect the differences in color. OK, but what makes that special? Every piece of art looks different when your eyes adjust, and subtleties will come out the longer you look at something and the longer that your eyes and mind adjust to the conditions. That Reinhardt did this with a black painting is no different that if I just painted something black and threw it on the wall to call it art. The longer you look at it the more your eyes will pick up subtleties and differences in the colors due to the application process. You can get the same experience by staring at any painted wall in a home.
    These are just excuses for people that have convinced themselves that this is good art to allow themselves to maintain their illusion that this could not have been done by any person on the street. Do we have the nerve to put it up on a wall and call it art? No. But that does not mean that the people that do have that nerve actually possess talent in addition to that nerve.

  • Iain Drennan

    great video!

  • orkid box

    I am enjoying watching all these painting videos from MoMA.

  • Sara Newton

    This is really interesting. It looked like you started on a commercially stretched and primed canvas. I"m interested in the mat / no brush stroke finish and am wondering if there is more to the prep of the canvas than shown here. Can you tell me?

  • Iain Drennan

    Reinhardt was a master.

  • Gina Velázquez

    Very interesting, I loved to know more about the technique……

  • Grey Heart

    Men have dominated the art industry forever, everything they do is viewed as profound and thought provoking. Even when it's just a black canvas.

  • Denny

    Respect to the artist! But was I the only one to chuckle when he said, "There is no black in this painting."

    Then proceeds to add black to the paint…

  • The Museum of Modern Art

    Hey everyone, tune in this Wednesday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. EDT for a LIVE Q&A with IN THE STUDIO instructor Corey D'Augustine. Corey will answer questions from previous videos, as well as from the live comments section. Watch live:

  • Acquavallo

    wow, so nice 🙂

  • lianna yoan tan

    but I think the proses make black not like that, but use red mix with green than put in the jar with turpentine, or using blue mix with red….. not use black all….. I think not like this video way mix the color if not use black at all…..

  • Mr. Ward

    I love having a matte look to my paint. I'll have to try this technique. Thanks for the video.

  • jakub martiska

    wow, ive never known that drake is so much into fine art…

  • jguo52

    Now that drake's explained it, the black square's infinitely more romantic

  • neoangie

    as a complete noob I tried this just to see if this is really one of the "my 5 yrs old could do it" art piece … but it is harder than it looks, the effect of no brush is almost imposible to achieve … the end result is weird and inconsistent. but a fun project anyways, tnx for great content!

  • alchemistoxford

    Would like to see a How to paint like Howard Hodgkin.

  • Tom Lynch

    Corey, you do one hulluva great job in these videos!

  • ChickenMcNiggle

    I don't think this is as much art as a cool science experiment

  • emily bronheart

    Some time ago, I used to dislike Modern Art. When I saw this video I wouldn't think that my whole perception of MA was about to change for good. Ad Reinhardt with his brilliant work showed me the true meaning behind modern Art. Until that day when I first saw this video I have been very intrested on MA. 3 days ago actually I just finished painting a work of my own! Thank you so much for uploading this life-changing video!

  • msGvious

    Deep 🙂 love hearing thought process behind these works

  • Cheesy Circumcision

    at first i was like yeah its just black then you start to kinda see colour and its like woahhh

  • Chase Dorton

    Drawing lines on a canvas? What a madman!

    Wonderful video though! I love getting a glimpse into the mind of the masters.

  • Matangaro Matangaro

    Reinhardt … Matte master – incredible

  • Cheesy Circumcision

    so i tried to make this painting at home and it turned out alright but if youre going to aswell either wait more than 2 weeks and or dont use paint thinner, USE TURPENTINE. idk which one caused mine to not work right but my paint was extremely runny and it was nearly impossible to get no brush marks. also its better to make the colour too dark than too light so dont be afraid to add that extra bit of black.
    ill definitely try it again, waiting a month and using turpentine and more black for green and red but kinda disapointed with mine tbh

  • marc atkinson

    could you do this with white?

  • Lee Will

    Can you do a video on Yves Klein please?

  • tabot birhan


  • ya0urt

    And I disvover this 8 years late….

  • Christopher Farrell

    Interesting……must be a nightmare for the art conservators, as with most paintings in that era.

  • devendra karvande

    This is the greatest thing ever

  • MrChad97Z

    wow look at all that detail… and brilliant colors… what a work of art. just a tad on the dark side though …

  • Glitch Uranus

    I like Ad Reinhardt. The idea of adjusting your eyes to the colors of the 'black' paint. It's paradoxical yet true.

  • Doppe1ganger



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