Terms

Minimalism

In the early 20th century, the term "minimalism" was used to refer an impersonal, austere style of painting and sculpture characterized by simplicity of form and the use industrially processed materials. From the early 1960s, minimalism came to refer primarily to the three dimensional works of artists such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, and Sol Lewitt; Judd and Morris both wrote influential critical texts about minimalism. Their work is based on what is minimally necessary to make art — shape, three dimensional form, color, a visual order. Believing as Judd has stated that "a shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something in itself," they saw their works as objects, like any other objects, in the viewer's environment. The works often relied on industrial materials and processes. There is no evidence of the artist's hand. There is, however, a clear and obvious order to such pieces based on repetition, on a system, or on the obvious unity of a single shape. Minimalist artists questioned the validity of art as a vehicle for the expression of philosophical, emotional, or symbolic meanings. Their art is what it is in its physical sense rather than as a metaphor or representation of another reality. What you see is what it is about, a direct physical experience. Judd expresses a scepticism basic to Minimalist art: "grand philosophical systems are not credible anymore." A major movement of postmodernist art, minimalism is often associated with conceptual art.

Adapted from

DMA unpublished material, 2003.

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