The development of minimalism - Deepstash
Minimalism – Art Term | Tate

Minimalism – Art Term | Tate


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The development of minimalism

The development of minimalism

Minimalism emerged in the late 1950s when artists such as Frank Stella, whose Black Paintings were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, began to turn away from the gestural art of the previous generation.

It flourished in the 1960s and 1970s with Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin and Robert Morris becoming the movement’s most important innovators.


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Qualities of minimalist art

Qualities of minimalist art

Aesthetically, minimalist art offers a highly purified form of beauty. It can also be seen as representing such qualities as truth (because it does not pretend to be anything other than what it is), order, simplicity and harmony.


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Geometric single or repeated forms

Geometric single or repeated forms

Geometric single or repeated forms: Minimalism is characterised by single or repeated geometric forms (see Tate Glossary definition for 'modular ').

It is usually three-dimensional, taking the form of sculpture or installation, though there are a number of minimalist painters as well such as Agnes Martin and Frank Stella.


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Self-referential: Minimalist art does not refer to anything beyond its literal presence.

The materials used are not worked to suggest something else; colour (if used) is also non-referential, i.e if a dark colour is used, this does not mean the artist is trying to suggest a sombre mood.


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Factory-manufactured or shop-bought materials

Factory-manufactured or shop-bought materials

Factory-manufactured or shop-bought materials: Carl Andre frequently used bricks or tiles as the medium for his sculpture; Dan Flavin created his works from fluorescent bulbs purchased from a hardware store; Judd's sculptures are built by skilled workers following the artist's instructions.


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Minimalism and early abstraction

Minimalism and early abstraction

In 1962, the Russian constuctivist and suprematist movements of the 1910s and 1920s, such as the reduction of artworks to their essential structure and use of factory production techniques, became more widely understood – and clearly inspired minimalist sculptors.


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Deliberate lack of expression

Deliberate lack of expression

Deliberate lack of expression: With no trace of emotion or intuitive decision making, little about the artist is revealed in the work.

Minimalist artists rejected the notion of the artwork as a unique creation reflecting the personal expression of a gifted individual, seeing this as a distraction from the art object itself.

Instead they created objects that were as impersonal and neutral as possible.


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Space-aware: Carl Andre said 'I'm not a studio artist, I'm a location artist'.

Minimalist art directly engages with the space it occupies.

The sculpture is carefully arranged to emphasise and reveal the architecture of the gallery, often being presented on walls, in corners, or directly onto the floor, encouraging the viewer to be conscious of the space.


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