Minimal Art – the name first used by the critic Richard Wollheim (1965), other names considered “ABC Art“, “Rejective Art“, “Literalism“.
Minimalism appeared in the USA in the 1960s. For many of the artists who were usually grouped under the label of ‘Minimal Art’ that movement never existed. The most important aim for this particular movement was to “cool” and “reduce” the artwork.
The movement is regarded as an answer to Abstract Expressionism (“American post-World War II movement; The movement’s name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic.”) An opposition to the form, discourse, institutions and ideologies that supported Abstract Expressionism.

“The intent was to create works in which there was a total synthesis between form-volume and colour, and where such a synthesis could then be inserted into the polymorphic and polychromatic urban environment without altering the force if its immaculate neatness, The three-dimensional works that they constructed maintained the ideas of space, geometry and order. They were constructions executed on an elementary yet rigorous geometric plan in which the space was created by the open and closed areas of an artwork that made use of simple modular elements and was based on regular rhythm, division and equilibrium.”

Loredana Parmesani “Art of the Twentieth Century”
Main characteristics of Minimal Artworks
– adopting elemental geometric forms
– vaguele austere
– usually monochromatic
– abstract looking
– single/repeated geometric forms
– irrespective of its actual appearance
– use of natural, industrial materials
– lack of emotional essence
– stripping down to fundamental features

The List of Artists
Carl Andre (b.1935), Dan Flavin (1933-1996), Donald Judd (1928-1994), Sol LeWitt (1928), Robert Morris (1931), Richard Allen (1933-1999), Larry Bell (1939), Mino Argento (1927), Richard Serra (1939), Frank Stella (1936), Anthony Caro (1924), William Tucker (1935), Philip King (1934)
Carl Andre (b. 16/09/1935) – American minimalist artist.
– linear, grit format sculptures;
– geometrical arrangement;
– natural materials (bricks, cement blocks, logs, and bales of hay);

© Carl Andre/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2002

“‘Thesensation of these pieces was that they come above your
ankles, as if you were wading in bricks’, Andre has commented. ‘It was like
stepping from water of one depth to water of another depth.’ This was the last
in his series of Equivalent sculptures, each
consisting of a rectangular configuration of 120 firebricks. Although the shape
of each arrangement is different, they all have the same height, mass and
volume, and are therefore ‘equivalent’ to each other.”

© Carl Andre/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2002

“One of Andre’s early carvings, Last Ladder was made by cutting a series of
organic concave forms into a rough-hewn beam of wood that had been salvaged from
a construction site. Andre intended his cutting to reveal the distinctive
qualities of this raw material. He later said of this sculpture: the wood
was better before I cut it than after. I did not improve it in any way.”

As an opposite of such movements as Abstract Expressionism or Pop Art, the Minimal Art represents a total reduction of the image and colour.
The creators operated only with simplified solid, basic shapes (circle, triangle, rectangle), smooth surfaces, volume and scale (often forming monumental objects).
Treating artwork as something unsophisticated (refusing the colour, decorated style) artists wanted their work to become a part of everyday world, as the reason of that, many of works elicit the anonymity. This trend has appealed to the primitive forms of architecture and the fascination of industrial production (attitude akin to constructivism).
Because of that, images were developed with, for example, simple modular division or completely smooth objects/sculptures as simple blocks, sometimes associated with the architecture. All works have a kind of sterility, where any disruption can disturb, and also are characterized by precision.

Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt (b.9/09/28 d.8.04.07) american artist linked to Conceptual art and Minimalism.
– simple, geometric drawings and sculptures;
– reduced basic shapes (quadrilaterals, spheres, triangles), colors (red, yellow, blue, black) and lines;
– in sculpture: use of open, modular structures, originates from the cube;
– work range in size from gallery sized installations to monumental outdoor pieces;

Two Open Modular Cubes/Half-Off 1972, © The estate of Sol LeWitt

“In 1982 the artist wrote, ‘the most interesting characteristic of the cube is that it is relatively uninteresting. It is best used as a basic unit for any more elaborate function, the grammatical device from which the work may proceed.’ This sculpture is one of a group on the same scale, beginning with a single cube and using it as a building block or module in various combinations. This is the key example of the ‘half-off’ sculptures, where the cubes abut along half of one side instead of being aligned. The series includes works with three half-off cubes and with five half-off cubes alternately projecting and receding in a zig-zag. There are potentially many additions to the basic form. ”

[no title], 1982 © The estate of Sol LeWitt
“All of LeWitt’s work embraces some kind of system. Here, he uses the frame of a cube to generate a series of geometric shapes. This sequence shows five shapes, but the possible permutations that could be drawn out of a cube are almost limitless. The prints are not made by LeWitt, but by assistants according to his instructions. By minimising his physical presence in the process of fabrication, LeWitt emphasises the importance of the concept behind the work. ‘The idea becomes a machine that makes the art’, he has said.”



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