The US minimalist movement represents an increasingly popular critical reflection on the ills of consumerism and an effort to forge new ways of living amidst consumer capitalism. In both music and the visual arts, Minimalism was an attempt to explore the essential elements of an art form. Rejecting classical ideals of representational sculpture, his pieces assumed a direct material and physical presence. Editor James Meyer is a specialist who has written extensively on many significant artists belonging to Minimalist art. His paintings are characterized by irregular forms and bold and contrasting colors free of gestural brushstrokes. Believing that the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work, he perceived creation as an intellectual and pragmatic act. But what exactly did it mean and take to create Minimalist art and why were so many of those working in architecture and design so fascinated by its philosophy and aesthetics? Yet, his practice exceeded Minimalist ethos, being at the forefront of some other movements such as Process Art and Land Art. In Minimalist music, the traditional treatment of form and development was rejected in favour of explorations of timbre and rhythm—musical elements largely unfamiliar to Western listeners. A major figure in American art for more than 40 years, Anne Truitt is best known for her large, vertical wooden sculptures that were covered in many coats of paint, but she also created paintings, drawings, and writings. The minimalist sculpture was all about the piece, and it had nothing to do with the artist. He employed traditional materials such as wood, canvas, and paint, but placed a great emphasis on concepts and systems. Their geometric abstraction did not describe anything, neither the external world nor the narrative of a story; the neutral monochromatic palette of primary colors was only there to delineate space, rather than express a feeling; the raw, mass-produced traditional materials did not symbolize or represent anything else but their own selves. Some cite Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as being the first leader of minimalist design, and his basic, yet striking structures are constructed simply to maximize space and a feeling of openness. Although radical, and rejecting many of the concerns of the immediately preceding abstract expressionist movement, earlier abstract movements were an important influence on the ideas and techniques of minimalism. It had a great influence on Minimalism in the West, particularly in America in the 18th and 19th century and it is interesting to see how their ideas merged with Western cultures and design needs - take Frank Lloyd Wright, who adopted the Japanese sliding door that allows bringing the exterior to the interior. The California-based movement focused on creating works related to light, volume, and scale through installations. Minimal design and architecture, like visual art, roots in the works of De Stijl, its rectangular forms and primary colors, as well as the designs by the pioneer of modern architecture, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect who laid the ground work for “large-scale” Minimalism after the Second World War. Regarded as one of the early proponents of Minimalism, Robert Morris was guided by the vision of art pared down to simple geometric shapes stripped of metaphorical associations. Let's take a look at some of the most prominent names involved with the movement. Quick view Read more. Best known for her evocative paintings marked out in subtle pencil lines and pale color washes, Agnes Martin imparted a legacy of abstraction that has inspired generations of artists. In Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970; Great Salt Lake, Utah), the artist’s manipulation of the . Not carving into the substances, nor modeling forms, his works simply involved sorting and placing of raw materials such as bricks, blocks, ingots, or plates. Minimalism and early abstraction. Between 1958 and 1960, Frank Stella created his seminal series of Black Paintings, for which he abandoned brushwork, depth and the regular canvas form altogether to make concentrically striped canvases stretched on a thicker wooden chassis that thrust them out from the wall aggressively. As the exhibition progressed into the second half of the 20th century, it turned to the emergence of minimalism as an art movement across media. Its influences are also incorporated in Land art, through the work of Michael Heizer, Richard Long and Walter de Maria, the famous examples of Feminist art… Today, we still have many contemporary artists associated with Minimalism and the durability of its ideology can perhaps be attributed to the fact that achieving such aesthetics is difficult, yet quite rewarding, both for the audience and the artist. For certain young American sculptors, however, work such as Caro’s seemed to embody limiting “European” aesthetic precepts. Minimal hard-edge painting is the anonymous construction of a simple object. While accepting... Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. They used simple harmonic and melodic patterns in their highly repetitive music. The need and appreciation of the essential found a home in the works of Post-Minimalism-dubbed works of Richard Serra and light installations of James Turrell, as well as sculptural works of Eva Hesse, Larry Bell, and Lynda Benglis. For them, less truly is more, and this way of thinking fits perfectly with this large island nation in such little space to operate with. have served as the motto for Minimalism, an art movement that really began in the 1960s, although there were some earlier manifestations. 1960s minimalism Beginning of the movement Frank Stella Robert Morris Donald Judd Sol LeWitt Carl Andre Agnes Martin 4. Finally, there’s the traditional Japanese design, infused with culture and Zen. Perhaps even more than paintings, Minimalist sculptures had an important role in the movement, as it was largely about creating three-dimensional forms in space using industrial materials like fiberglass, plastic, plywood, sheet metal, or aluminum, and geometric shapes in bright colors. © 2013-2021 Widewalls | The viewer was to examine the relationship between different parts of an artwork within a repetitive circle of geometric bodies, such as cubes, placed on the gallery floor rather than on a pedestal, like we’re used to. Throughout her five-decades long career, she worked within an extremely limited set of variables. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Decluttering our lives and living and breathing stress-free simplicity. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. One of the most famous examples is that of the Paleolithic cave pai… So wirst du Minimalist:in. Characterized by pure form and color and imbued with spatial unity, his works influenced greatly the development of abstract art in America. How Long Minimalism Has Been a Movement . Focused on the artwork's interaction with the viewer, he believed that the simplicity of the shape doesn’t imply the simplicity of the experience. Like Pop Art, which emerged simultaneously, Minimalism presented ordinary subject matter in a literal way that lacked expressive features or metaphorical content; likewise, the use of commercial processes smacked of mass production and seemed to reject traditional expectations of skill and originality in art. Minimal art, also called ABC art, is the culmination of reductionist tendencies in modern art that first surfaced in the 1913 composition by the Russian painter Kasimir Malevich of a black square on a white ground. American Art. His work was often presented in a serialized manner, referring to the standardization of forms or systems. He later referred to his pieces as “sculptures as place”, alluding to the fact that his pieces are produced by placing objects on the floor. Postminimalism also sought to move art out of the gallery and into the natural and built environment, thereby freeing the artwork from its status as a commodity and expanding the domain of what is conventionally considered appropriate material for a work of art. Her most important works were created in the early 1960s anticipating in many respects the work of minimalists like Donald Judd. Check out more works by Frank Stella on our marketplace. It was all sealed with the 1966 Primary Structures group exhibition held at the Jewish Museum in New York and Sol LeWitt’s Paragraphs on Conceptual Art written in 1967. A style that evolved as a reaction to Minimalism during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite the intellectual thorniness of this art, Meyer avoids the turgidity that marks much of the writing associated with it. The goal was to reduce the subject to essentials that were all functional, thus creating void spaces and a sense of freedom, in a way. Prominent artists associated with minimalism include Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. Razor-sharp and bulky, these paintings could easily be considered something else, although they were not exactly sculptures, which still had their own successful category. While many cultures practice concepts of aesthetic simplicity, Minimalism The expression is used specifically in relation to music and the visual arts, but can refer to any field using minimalism as a critical reference point. Just like Action Painting relied on gesture to convey a feeling, Minimalist art used the medium and material of its works to highlight the simplicity through sleek, geometric works that offered a radically different, literal and objective aesthetic appeal[2]. As paintings were no longer paintings in a traditional sense, a few key abstract painters such as Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman introduced the simple, Minimalist canvas that had some well-defined characteristics. Young added very little to this texture and virtually eliminated variation as a developmental technique. To rebel is what art does best and as such, post-minimalism needs to be understood as a reaction against the Minimalism of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Minimalism began as an art movement in 1960s New York, focusing on extreme aesthetic austerity. A sculptor, visual artist, architectural designer, and a theorist, he studied architecture with László Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes and Alexander Archipenko and was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. Pre-order our book YOU ARE AN ARTIST (which includes new assignments!) He focused on basic elements of the painting such as color, shape, and composition, following a principle of “line, plane, volume, and point, within space”. Exploring subtle variations of color and using the grid as and organizational element in canvases, she blended styles of Minimalism and Color Field. After the 1960s when the movement had its peak, some of the artists radically changed their practice and moved in different personal directions. Their frequent grid-based compositions asked for the artist’s originality and the creation of a special relationship between the viewer and the artwork and in many cases this relationship aimed for physical direct contact in order to work[4]. Minimalism did exist as a movement, although many artists used its principles without actively participating in its creation, and by the late 1960s, it all began showing signs of breaking apart in different directions. As one of the first artists who created irregularly shaped canvases, Ellsworth Kelly has been a widely influential force in the post-war art world. Art movement Postminimalism is an art term coined (as post-minimalism) by Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971 used in various artistic fields for work which is influenced by, or attempts to develop and go beyond, the aesthetic of minimalism. As such, it was widely accepted in the fields of Minimal architecture and design, which were more than willing to explore, interpret and apply the dynamics of clean elements. Use of the hard edge, the simple form, and the linear rather than painterly approach was intended to emphasize two-dimensionality and to allow the viewer an immediate, purely visual response. The Minimalism art movement is one of the most influential of the 1960s, emerging in New York City among a number of young artists who were moving away from Abstract Expressionism and favoured a sleek, geometric aesthetic instead, which would manifest itself in minimalist art. They turned for inspiration to the impassive, quiet works of Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt, exponents of the colour-field branch of Abstract Expressionist painting. Minimal Art was finally on the Contemporary art map and its simple aesthetics was shining bright. In visual arts, music, and other media, minimalism is an art movement that began in post–World War II Western art, most strongly with American visual arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Minimalists, who believed that Action painting was too personal and insubstantial, adopted the point of view that a work of art should not refer to anything other than itself. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. He was concerned with new notions of chance, temporality, and ephemerality. She was guided by the conviction that art has the emotive and expressive power. Apart from visual arts, architecture and design, its influence can be found in literature and music, in plays and novels of Samuel Beckett and the compositions of John Cage and Philip Glass. Guided by the search for an essence and substance of things, Minimalism attracted a wide range of practitioners such as painters, sculptors, designers, and architects. Minimalism was everything but conventional, and artists like Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Anthony Caro and Tony Smith all experimented with different aspects of physicality and space. In 1962 the first English-language book about the Russian avant-garde, Camilla Gray’s The Great Experiment in Art: 1863-1922, was published. Art Deco 1910 – 1940 Art Deco was a popular design movement from 1920 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts, and film. While working as an architect, he designed more than 20 private residencies. The origins of art history can be traced back to the Prehistoric era, before written records were kept. As a result, Minimalism and its objects blurred the line between two and three dimensions, painting and sculpture[3]. Covered with black paint, its unreadable surface undermined traditional understandings of art as something emotionally and aesthetically appealing. Like Young, Morton Feldman tried to eliminate variation. In many of his works, we can find many elements serving a variety of purposes - for instance, we would design a floor that would also be a radiator. He was guided by the mantra “less is more”, believing that the most important feature of a housing object is its functionality. The innovations in the field came through materials as well, where steel, concrete, and glass provided new challenges to overcome[6]. The early examples of such visual impact can also be found in the work of Le Corbusier in the 1920s, who also looked to establish functional architectural designs with the minimum focus on appearance. His visual vocabulary is drawn from the everyday life, using shapes and colors found in plants, architecture, shadows on a wall or a lake. A turning point in the history of Modernism, Minimal art introduced a new way of producing, looking at and experiencing artworks in the manner of a proper avant-garde. With his famous “Less is more” motto, architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe perfectly describes the idea behind his Minimal architecture, which was then adopted by many to follow. He once stated: “In my work, I don’t want you to look at the surface; I want you to look at the form, the relationships”. Favoring new materials such as steel and glass over concrete, he designed buildings that were functional, modern and visually pleasing. Rising to prominence in 1959 with a series of black striped paintings, Stella made a decisive departure from Abstract Expressionism. These materials would be stacked on top of each other without fixatives to hold them in place. Dismantling the devices of three-dimensional illusionism and emphasizing the flatness of the canvas, this series served as a catalyst for the emergence of Minimalism. Perhaps the Minimalism movement is most prominent in Japan, where the presence of Zen Buddhism instills a desire for a kind of candor. Minimal art, along with the music of Erik Satie and the aesthetics of John Cage, was a distinct influence on Minimalist music. Dia Beacon, a museum of mainly Minimalist pieces, exhibits a permanent collection of the best-known artists in the movement. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In this highly readable history of minimalist art James Meyer argues that "minimalism" was not a coherent movement but a field of overlapping and sometimes opposed practices. Written by Angie Kordic and Elena Martinique. Prominent artists associated with minimalism include Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. He often created repeating units with a studied, reduced and stark feel to invoke the pure essence of the artistic form. Strongly believing that spiritual inspiration is seminal in creating great art, her work was influenced by nature, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. For instance, because these artworks were entirely self-referential, their presence was meant to be “felt” immediately, through their “hard edges”, or the abrupt transition between areas of solid, unvarying color from a restricted palette, as well as the repetitive patterns and geometric forms resulting in flatness and two-dimensional space. A synonym for Minimalist art, the work of Donald Judd was built upon the idea of the object as it exists in the environment. Over time, he moved from a monochrome palette to include a wide range of colors. Like the painters, Minimalist sculptors attempted to make their works totally objective, unexpressive, and non-referential. Reacting against the complex, intellectually sophisticated style of modern music, several composers began to compose in a simple, literal style, thereby creating an extremely simple and accessible music. His most famous pieces are The New National Gallery in Berlin, The Barcelona Pavillion, Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York City. One other thing to consider is the fact that Japan is regularly beset by earthquakes, which makes it logical not to have valuable, hanging objects around the house. It lasted only a decade during the 1960s, but Minimalism still stands as one of the most significant and influential movements of the 20th century. Helping establish Conceptual Art and Minimalism of the postwar era, Sol LeWitt created wall drawings, structures, painting and conceptual pieces. As a design movement, minimalism is still relatively new, having only come into its own in the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly with American visual art. In that period, … These traditional materials were meant to demonstrate their own vulnerability to decay, destruction, or obsolescence. Earlier European abstract movements greatly influenced American minimalist art creators. Part of Phaidon's Themes and Movements series, the book offers the first straightforward and useful summary of the output and outlook of the artists associated with the movement in its heyday, as well as its subsequent development into more nuanced visual forms and its relationship to postmodernism. He combined various industrialized materials such as iron, steel, plastic, and Plexiglas. Early minimalism in art rejected tradition of craftsmanship and rather opted for raw materials. He used geometric and modular creations that were characterized by plain design and the lack of content, questioning the very nature of art. Interested in the theory of construction and philosophy, he wanted to complete a theory of aesthetics that would unite the modern needs of a modern man. Characterized by geometric forms and distinct black finish, sculptures of Tony Smith represent one of the supreme achievements of American sculpture. It differs from other types of geometric abstraction in that it rejects both lyrical and mathematical composition because, even in this simplified field, they are a means of personal expression for the artist. The primary structures of the Minimalist sculptors Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Tony Smith, Anthony Caro, Sol LeWitt, John McCracken, Craig Kaufman, Robert Duran, and Robert Morris and the hard-edge painting of Jack Youngerman, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Al Held, and Gene Davis grew out of these artists’ dissatisfaction with Action painting, a branch of American Abstract Expressionism based on intuitive, spontaneous gesture that had dominated American avant-garde art through much of the 1950s. She continued making visionary paintings for over three decades. By the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s, a group of artists previously linked to Abstract Expressionism shifted their creative course toward geometric abstraction, in particular, creatives like Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Color Field painters like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, as well as Hard-edge master Ad Reinhardt. His most famous piece is Die, a six-foot black steel cube inspired by the two muscles on the back of the neck and characterized by its cold, imposing nature. Apart from visual arts, architecture and design, its influence can be found in literature and music, in plays and novels of Samuel Beckett and the compositions of John Cage and Philip Glass. Designer Michael Mott echoed the reductive approach of Minimalist art with a 1960s black-and-white mini-dress created for the boutique Paraphernalia. Denn wer wenig besitzt, muss sich auch um weniger kümmern, hat dafür aber mehr Platz, Zeit und Geld. Minimalism has long been associated with art. Minimalism emerged as a reaction to the abstract expressionist movement of the 1950s and early 1960s, deriving partly from the reductivism of Modernism and the geometric abstract movement. La Monte Young, for example, composed a number of electronic “continuous frequency environments,” in which he generated a few pitches and then electronically sustained them, sometimes for days or weeks. Calling himself a “matterist”, he claimed that his sculptures explore the properties of matter. After sanding the wood and priming it with several coats of gesso, she would apply several coats of acrylic paint to create a mesmerizing visual intensity.

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