After Modernism Lesson 4-Minimalism

First of all in the lesson we had a recap of what we had learnt previously in other lesson I found this very helpful because it helped me remember certain elements of the groups.

Clement Greenberg He believed in self criticism, he wanted to narrow the paintings down and make it become purely painting.He believed that a painting must have these 3 elements:

  • Flat 2D
  • Rectangular shaped canvas
  • Pigmented paint has certain qualities

Artists became trapped by reductive prescription for painting and looked for an alternative.

Pop Art was the interest of art and the consumer culture interest, Pop artists were interested in obvious banal imagery. They had an interest in clash between high and low culture and they debated about whether pop art was a celebration of consumer culture or a critique of it.

Fluxus was the concept of overcoming the distinction between art and life sense and nonsense object and event. They depended on the activity of the audience to exist. Unlike Greenburg’s notion that each art form should become autonomous.

The three elements of fluxus was:

  1. Purging-Anti-Art
  2. Flooding- Promoting new forms
  3. Fusing- Art and life

Moving then onto Minimalism, we have to examine Judds and Robert Morris’s ideas.

Who were the minimalists?

  •  Dan Flavin
  • Donald Judd
  • Carl Andre
  • Robert Morris
  • Sol LeWitt


Other names they were called before they were the Minimalists were, Literalism, ABC Art, Basic form of order and Primary Structures.


We then read and looked into Donald Judd’s ‘Specific Objects’. What is wrong with painting? It is too flat, object/ conventional. They were mostly rectangular which was an obvious shape. Why did it have to be rectangular? Pictorial space and Oil paint and canvas, Industrial paint is more real that oil paint. These are the things that Greenburg said was what made a painting good, where as Donald Judd thinks these are the problems.


Donald Judd likes Frank Stella works, they are not rectangular, he has taken a portion out the middle which now we see as more 3D and now becomes an object. Frank Stella used to say “What you see is what you get” but as I look at it more the work to me becomes much more like an optical illusion, the lines look like a top of a pyramid. I see it differently is that wrong?


I agree with Judd to a certain extent I think personally the image in more optical illusion and quite flat with the colours used.

What is wrong with sculpture according to Judd?

It is part by part composed, made bit by bit and joined together, separate things joined. And many sculptures are only made from wood and metal. which are artificiality coloured. Monochrome with finished detail.



Gestalt- means form or shape and how we perceive the world. most basic, but the purest forms of perception. Critics and viewers worried that there was not enough to look at in minimal art and it was to easy to understand.

Picture8Minimalism and Phenomenology is based on the notion of embodiment and the notion of the world comes into contact with the body in contact with it. Object, Spectator and space. We sense with our bodies and our borders are artificial there is no distinction between sight taste sound touch and smell. We experience the world using all of these senses not just one separate one.


Features of minimalism.

  1. Simplicity (Gestalt) reducing forms so you know exactly what you’re looking at.
  2. Scale-‘not small enough to be an object and not big enough to be a monument.
  3. Repetition- simplest forms or ordering
  4. Gravity- Minimalists don’t like hidden supports so they use gravity to support their work.
  5. Systems- simple yet complex planned out so we see all options of the piece through complex mess.
  6. Colour-Doesn’t restrict the object but helps it develop in the environment.
  7. Industrial Fabrication- Assembly in the cheapest way possible.


Features of Post-Minimalism

  1. Gestalt? questioning and playing around with what we can actually see.
  2. Chance.
  3. Formlessness-interested in the way that the form of the piece is beyond is control.
  4. Softness
  5. Drama
  6. Monumentality


Minimalism is significant historically because it set out a formal vocabulary that many contemporary artists continue to use, from Anish Kapoor to Damien Hirst and from Ai Weiwei to Olafur Eliason. Beyond this, minimalism remains current because its insistence on the plain, material reality of the artwork continues to act as a necessary balance to the temptation to try and make artworks mean too much. I really liked the minimalist reaction to art, I think being simplistic helps you see what is right in front of you and you don’t need to think too deeply into meaning of the piece. I also think you can enjoy the piece more with having to wonder about hidden meanings.

Minimalism is an interesting movement to discuss as I am not sure if I like the movement, some of the work is good but then some of it is so simplistic that I would fail to call it art, but that is just my opinion. It is interesting to discover how art critics write and form their own views on how and what art is considered. I find it hard to remember names so I get some of the theories mixed up. I just need to read more about these and watch more about these.


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