The history of modernism reads like an aesthetic Book of the Dead. At the first glimmering of photography, painter Paul Delaroche fretted, "From today, painting is dead." In 1912, Duchamp mused, "Painting is washed up." Aleksandr Rodchenko pronounced his 1921 monochromes "the end of painting." Critic Harold Rosenberg was fond of a line, popular among the AbEx crowd, declaring that the painting of "Newman had closed the door, Rothko had pulled down the shades, and Reinhardt had turned out the lights." And Reinhardt himself once said, "I am merely making the last painting which anyone can make."
Jerry Saltz on "Unpainted Paintings" at Luxembourg & Dayan