Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

How to Look at Modern Art in America
  • Ad Reinhardt, artist
    1913–1967
    born: Buffalo, New York, United States ; died: New York, New York, United States
    Thomas B. Hess, author
    1920–1978
    born: Rye, New York, United States ; died: New York, New York, United States
    Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, publisher
  • How to Look at Modern Art in America, 1946
  • The Art Comics and Satires of Ad Reinhardt
  • Where object was made: United States
  • offset lithograph
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 342 x 262 mm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 13 7/16 x 10 5/16 in
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 355 x 278 mm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 14 x 10 15/16 in
    Mat Dimensions: 19 x 14 in
  • Museum purchase: Museum of Art Acquisition Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2009.0002.09
Label Text
Literature
Exhibitions

Exhibition Label:
"Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature & Culture," Mar-2009, Steve Goddard
Artist and writer Ad Reinhardt was a prominent champion of abstract painting. His How to Look at Modern Art in America is one of 22 comics that appeared approximately every two weeks in the New York tabloid P.M. from January 1946 until January 1947. This hierarchical tree diagram, based in part on a similar but much tamer work by artist Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957), was a parody of an attempt to map out the competing trajectories of Cubism and abstract art by art historian and MoMA director Alfred H. Barr, Jr. (1902-1981). Barr’s diagram is a mix of a flow chart and a timeline and reads like a seething sea of vectors and “isms," while Reinhardt’s hilarious comic of the breaking tree of modern art is as clear as it is opinionated.