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Art Movement in Focus: Minimalism – An Introduction

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at Minmaliism.

Minimalism – An Introduction

The common idea of art is that it is essentially representational in nature, but the minimalists agreed that art need not be imitational. That it would hold its own. In this sense – the artists of the school removed themselves away from the Abstract Expressionists as well.

During the late 1950s, there was a group of artists who began to turn away from gestural art. There was a simple dropping of all metaphorical and biographical references from the work. This led to the creation of sleek geometric works. More often than not the works represented factory-made works, that were not tied to a narrative or to the artist. They succeeded in creating clean and simple forms and gave the world lines and patterns that were breath-taking.

However, can art ever be apart from a narrative? Perhaps they managed to keep a certain sentimentality at bay and work that was not churning out montages, but they were definitely pieces from the mind of the artists.

They definitely broke traditional norms, as with every movement, challenging the notions of the previous years – and were responsible for generating a substantial response from the audiences.

OUR TOP 6 Minimalists

One of the pivotal ideas of the Minimalists was that they erased the definitive boundaries between sculpture and art. Furthermore, they endeavoured to reject formalist dogmas that placed limited the creative process. The Minimalists espoused the democratic point of view, and they worked hard to protect it. 

  1. Tony Smith
  2. Dan Flavin
  3. Sol Le Witt
  4. Donald Judd
  5. Frank Stella
  6. Carl Andre

6 WORKS THAT DEFINE THE MINIMALISM ART MOVEMENT:

The hallmark of the minimalist design structure was the use of prefabricated industrial materials. And often repeated geometric forms together with the emphasis placed on the physical space occupied by the artwork. Thus leading to some works that forced the viewer to confront the arrangement and scale of the forms. Viewers also were led to experience qualities of weight, height, gravity, agility, or even the appearance of light as a material presence. They were often faced with artworks that demanded a physical as well as a visual response.

Tony Smith
Die
1962

Die 1962(fabricated 1998), Tony Smith  (1912-1980 )
Image courtesy: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81364?sov_referrer=artist&artist_id=5494&page=1

Dan Flavin
Untitled (To Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard)
1972–1975


Untitled, (to Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard), (1972–1975), Dan Flavin ( 1933-1996)
Image courtesy: https://news.artnet.com/market/minimalist-master-light-dan-flavin-374936

Sol Lee Witt
Wall Drawing #370
1982

Wall Drawing #370, Sol Le Wit (1928-2007)
Image courtesy: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/sol-lewitt

Donald Judd
Untitled
1967

(Untitled), 1967, Donal Judd (1928-1994)
Image courtesy: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81324

Frank Stella
The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II
1959

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II, 1959, Frank Stella (b. 1936)
Image courtesy: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/minimalism/the-materials-of-minimalism/

Carl Andre
Equivalent VIII
1966

Equivalent VIII, 1966, Carl Andre (b. 1935)
Image courtesy: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/carl-andre-64

For more such quick introductions and lists regarding Art History, visit Art Movement in Focus.

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