I respect both Ad Reinhardt and Michael Corris. It is an auspicious pairing despite the fact that "conceptual art" can be a most abusive practice as both art and criticism. But Mr. Corris can and does deliver the real deal regardless that his thesis is controversial. He addresses Ad Reinhardt's far leftist politics, from the 1930's and 1940's. The book covers previously uncelebrated graphics using a fresh interpretation to persuade us to think differently about the time that really matters most in Reinhardt's career, the 1950's and 1960's. He was born Adolf Frederick Reinhardt in 1913. (Hence, "Ad".) We are asked to consider Ad's early, doctrinaire, communist political affiliations as critical in understanding his mature work and ultimately, his mature career in New York. The book addresses Reinhardt's relatively lesser status and critical appreciation within the abstract art pantheon and it offers reasons for a deeper appreciation for his art and its influences.
For Corris, and potential readers, it is in the illumination of early biographical depth that adds a new dimension to our subject. Evidence includes Reinhardt's ideological support of Russia that was so deep as not to be significantly reduced by rumors and reports regarding Stalin's pogroms, the mass incarcerations, ruthless violence, death from extensive famines and constant intimidation committed by Stalin against his own people. But he was not the only one. In fact, The New Republic was very slow in turning against Stalin. However, Corris reads this as evidence of Reinhardt's rather extreme ideological dedication. He also argues that there was a price to be paid for it later in New York. I do see the rigidity remaining later in Reinhardt's personal convictions regarding the correctness of his thoughts and convictions. Reinhardt was not in the least intimidated in print nor slow to bite possibly the hand that fed him.
Both an artist and writer, Corris' credentials in conceptual art in particular are not only authentic, they are impressive. You might also like to read Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth, and Practice by Corris.
This book may not be as interesting for the first time reader about Reinhardt and his art. It is not intended to be. The author's assumption is that you will already be familiar with them. No art is illustrated. This book is intended for scholars and those who already have a sufficient amount of specialized knowledge on the subject, the times, his language and the various art movements. I would also be sympathetic to those readers who reject the book's thesis as reductionist but that statement itself is far too simplistic. This is a serious book. You likely will find little to dispute in seeing Reinhardt's influence upon Minimalism and Conceptual Art or to reverse the arrows, the influence of his thoughts upon critics in his day. Corris included an interesting insight regarding cultural and feminist critic, Lucy Lippard's early development. (If you own her book on Reinhardt, you have a very valuable publication Ad Reinhardt.)
Reinhardt was very critical, whether about corrupt systems in politics and economies or about of them in the art establishment and the superficiality around art he made his life's work (plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.)
For those new to his art, welcome and enjoy. Finding supplemental sources to help here is not difficult. Reinhardt's own missives, memorable quotes as well as his own articulate writing about art should be considered welcome discoveries and points of departure all of their own. For more by and about Ad Reinhardt, you might consider beginning with, Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt (Documents of Twentieth-Century Art) as well as Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock (A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts).