Minimalism began in the United States in the 1960’s, but the movement influenced modern art around the world. Minimalism mostly refers to painting, sculpture, and installation work.
However, minimalism can refer to any art form that uses the barest essentials. The movement has also been referred to as minimal art, ABC art, reductivism, and rejective art.
Minimal artists wanted their artwork to be enjoyed without the distraction of deciphering a deeper meaning. Therefore, minimalist artwork did not contain emotional comments, or reference subject matters, personal statements, or symbolic meanings. Minimal art merely strived to be aesthetically pleasing and interesting.
Minimal artists focused on colour, formation, and geometric shape. Sometimes artwork was devised on a mathematical grid map. Artists used repetition and large planes of pure colour, often applying paint directly from the tube.
Minimalist art had many of the same aesthetic elements of Abstract Expressionism. However, unlike abstract expressionism, minimal art does not wish to make any kind of emotional statement.
Cubism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, and Russian Suprematism also affected the direction of minimalism.
Frank Stella was the forefather of the minimalism movement in the United States.
His early black paintings were extremely simplistic. When these painting were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, Stella inspired other artists to abandon expressive art and create minimalist art.
Besides paintings, Stella also created minimalist sculptures and installation pieces. All of Stella’s work focuses on colour, form, and shape.
Noteworthy Minimalist Artists
Other minimalist artists include John Graham, Barnett Newman, Agnes Martin, Tony Smith, Anne Truitt, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Eva Hesse, Robert Mangold, Keith Sonnier, and Peter Halley.
Minimalism questioned the role of art in modern society. Some people saw minimalist art as pointless and empty, and believed minimalism lessened the importance and meaning of art. Others thought minimalist art was a significant step in the development of post-modern art.
Other Art Movements
- Abstract Expressionism
- Academic Art
- Art Deco
- Art Nouveau
- Conceptual Art
- Figurative Art
- Naive Art
- Pop Art
- Surrealism / Surrealist Art