Thursday, November 11, 2010

Art History Thursday - Minimalism

Minimalism (from the late 50's to 70's) is characterized by a few key elements. Minimalism was...

*Anti-illusionism. Minimalism takes this characteristic of modern art further than any other movement thus far. Anti-illusionism was about looking at paint, canvas, and objects for what they really were. It was a focus on flatness and the confines of an art piece and not alluding to what was beyond that.

*Anti-composition. Minimalist didn't worry about achieving an interesting or unexpected balance and tension, instead there was a focus on repetition and displaying things one right after another.

*Embracing of pre-made materials and fabrication. The artist could act as more of a designer only.

*Shifting awareness from the piece of artwork to the context of the art work, the space surrounding it, and the viewer.

*Avoidance of evidence of the artist's hand or touch in the works.

Below is Frank Stella's Die Fahne Hoch!, 1959. Notice the Minimalist characteristics of anti-composition with the geometric layout and repetition of his lines. It is also very anti-illusionist as the lines of the painting accentuate the rectangular shape of the canvas. The idea is to look at the surface only and nothing beyond that; the viewer gets everything that is intended by just focusing on the surface.

Below is Carl Andre's 144 Pieces of Magnesium, 1969. In the minimalist movement art was taken of the "pedestal" and often plunked right down on the floor, into the space of the viewer, causing the viewer to be more aware of the spatial relationship between himself and the art. This piece was meant to be walked on causing the viewer to become aware of the body's visceral knowledge. In this case, Andre helps demonstrate that our bodies can tell the difference when we walk on different surfaces (e.g. wood flooring vs. magnesium). There is also a clear focus on anti-composition, fabrication, and the vibe that the artist's hand and touch are far removed from this work (because of it's stark quality and the precise lines and lay out).

The installation below demonstrates how artist Flavin uses light to emphasize space and spacial relationships, making the art about the space surrounding the work and the space between the work and the viewer more important than the work itself. Also an emphasis on fabrication and anti-composition.

There's so much more I could post on Minimalism, but for the sake of time I wanted to just give a brief introduction. I think it's really fascinating to see the shifts from one movement in Modern art to another and the reasons and feelings behind it all. Every Thursday it's always something new and I love it!

1 comment:

  1. Love reading your reflections on Art Thursday - definitely one of my favorite days of the week.



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