Art One Oh One - Minimalism

art one oh one - modern art history - minimalism

I am in love with this series - hey, wait a minute, that's REALLY close to our guest columnist's tag line: "seriously in love with art". Erin of Art Social is spreading the art love around with this series. We've learned about Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.Today it's Minimalism.

"A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn't be concealed as part of a fairly different whole."           - Donald Judd

Did you know Minimalism was actually called "Boring Art"? Critics can be so harsh! Although after the excitement of Abstract Expressionism and the concurrent movement Pop Art, it sure would be difficult to get excited about a bunch of shapes...

In addition to being called "Boring," work from this period was also called "ABC Art," "Literal Art," and even “No-Art Nihilism.” Yowza. The term Minimalism came from an article written by the critic Barbara Rose for the October 1965 issue of Art in America. While "ABC Art" was the title of her article, it didn't catch on as a name for the movement. In the article, however, she described the art as pared down to the "minimum." By the late '60s Minimalism officially caught on.

According to the book ArtSpeak by Robert Atkins, Minimalism was the first art movement of international significance pioneered exclusively by American-born artists. Yay us! Although pioneering the "Boring Art" movement might not be something we want to go around telling everyone...

Let's take a look at some artists from the Minimalist crew:

Artists from this movement wanted to return to the basics and reduce painting and sculpture to their essentials. No narrative. No content. Just simple forms. I think they did a great job, don't cha think?

Along with focusing on the basics, Minimalists also had a few other unusual and ground-breaking artistic tendencies. Primarily dominated by sculptors, Minimalism sought to eliminate the pedestal to stress artwork's continuity with real space. For the first time (which seems cray), sculpture was placed directly on the floor or on the wall. They also wanted to eliminate the artist's touch altogether. Many artists had their work produced by industrial fabricators. They came up with the idea, but a factory created the work itself - an issue that's still a hot topic among artists today.

Although the artwork seems simple and boring, there are some interesting theories surrounding Minimal art. Art historians and critics have analyzed Minimal art in relation to the industrial age, mass-production, phenomenology (how our minds see these shapes, my favorite Minimalist discussion), the negation of traditional art history (by not using pedestals and such), evoking the sublime through monochrome canvases, the list goes on and on. I think it goes something like: the simpler the art, the more complicated the meaning. Hmm perhaps an Art One Oh Two series is in order...

Minimalism dominated the art scene from the late '60s to the mid '70s. Numerous styles and movements emerged soon after... join me next time for a look at Performance Art!

Images: Donald Judd, Untitled

Grid: Sol Lewitt, Incomplete Open Cube | Donald Judd, Untitled | Carl Andre, 10 x 10 Altstadt Copper Square | Frank Stella, Die Fahne Hoch! | Tony Smith, Die |  Dan Flavin, "monument" 1 for V. Tatlin | Robert Morris, Untitled | Barry Le Va, Continuous and Related Activities; Discontinued by the Act of Dropping | Richard Serra, Tilted Arc