Reinhardt Paints A Picture

Reinhardt Paints A Picture



Programme notes

Another number from “Art Songs,” which – incidently – didn’t mean songs for classical singers with bad poetry for lyrics but songs that were actually about art.
Like Art-as-Art, this one was directly inspired by the Abstract Expressionist painter Ad Reinhardt and his habit of doing interviews with himself. His answer was always the same: “Yes.”

“Art Songs” was a project with Kleg, the multiple-electric guitar band from Groningen, the Netherlands.


Ad Reinhardt was born on Christmas Eve

born out of daylight
on the eve of the entry of Europe into the First World War

The year the cubists peaked
the birth of abstract art
modern art moved into America like a Avro
called itself the ‘Armory Show’

Laid down the rules at the port of New York
set up shop in Chicago
wound up in Boston
lil’ Ad smelled ‘em burning Matisse.

I grabbed my Sony, i showed up his loft
where Wavery Place meets Lower Broadway.
i said, “Let me ask you a couple of questions.”

“You were a vanguard pre-abstract expressionist in the late thirties.
You were a vanguard abstract-expressionist by forty-four.
You were a vanguard post-abstract expressionist when the fifties rolled around.”

“Speak into the condenser mic,
you’ve been doing these things since ‘I like Ike.’?”
“Yes,” he said.
“You were the first painter to kick the vanguard thing?”
‘Yes,” he said.
‘You were the first painter to read the whole ‘i ching’?”
‘Yes,” he said.

I pointed to some rags full of paint on the floor.
“Are these rags here your paint rags? Do you use them anymore?
“Yes,” he said.
“You’re using Bocour? You’re using Belgian linen?
These bottles over here, are these the ones you mix in?’
“Yes,” he said.
“You went around the world once?’
“Yes,” he said.
“Paris to Peking?”
“Yes,” he said.
Your stomach really curled once Andy made the scene.

Its a fact, Jack, that at the Factory
they got art, TV, top 40 chart
they don’t feel guilty

Its a fact, Jack, that at the Factory
they got Pop Art, they’re popping reds
cameras rolling above their beds.

Red and blue, ‘52, monochrome, symmetrical.
Matte black, 5 X 5, anti-dialectical.
You’re a pioneer, you’re a prophet.
One of the few, isn’t it true
who always knew how to hawk it?

“Are you still saying that art-as-art dogma?
The new stuff looks like old stuff I’ve read.
Are you still saying that what you been saying
is the only thing an artist can say that needs to said?”
“Yes,” he said.

“There’s nothing else to say?
“No,” he said. “That’s all for today.”

© 1991 VOLSAP Music, Amsterdam