The exhuberance of the essence
Minimal art can, sometimes and by some people, be perceived as a joke, as the contrary to art due to its simplicity and apparent lack of effort in its works. Can a white canvas be considered art? It looks like something unfinished, something that is just about to start.
There are many art movements that provoke this feeling. Back in time, impressionism caused the rejection of the viewers for being perceived as unfinished art, abstract expressionism was at first refused too by being considered as a conjunction of scribbles with no sense and no valuable technique, etc.
Despite it is true that art movements that represent a break with the past, when born, find it difficut to find its spot, is it also true that when understood become the most appreciated ones since they represent a step forward in the evolution of art history. These art movements, difficult to digest at first, have an intention and philosophy that respond to the necessities and motivations of their time.
This is the case of Minimal Art, which is already very accepted by the art world but it yet creates suspiction among the public. Behind its appearance, simple and raw, hides a strong intention that truly changed the course of art, giving new meanings and aesthetics to it.
Minimalism emerged in the United States in the early 60’s, to be exact in NYC. Its appearance was a response against Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and the realistic trends of the time. It stood up for reducing the artwork to the essential, removing the surplus and creating by using the minimum, by simplifying. Minimalism rejected the dramatic aspect of abstract expressionism, looking for the anonymity of the artist, denying the idea of art as a way of expressing human ideas or feelings. To be considered minimal art, no trace of emotion and no personal expression from the artist were required, which was accquired by removing any suggestion of biography and personality in the works. In minimalist art there was also no attemp, but the contrary, to represent and imitate the outside reality, but the work itself should have its own reality centered in its medium and form.
From all of this denials and new rules, minimal art moved towards geometric abstraction and the reductionism first promoted by other groups such as De Stijl or the russian constructivists, as well as artists such as Malevich. As a result, the creation of sleek and geometric objects took over the art scene. From the cosntructivists they adopted the use of modular fabrication and industrial materials, creating works that resembled Factory-built commodities with no additional narrative. By basing its shapes in such basic forms as the square and the rectangle, minimalism could be considered the most extreme of all abstract forms.
Aesthetically, minimalism offered a very pure form of beauty, representing qualities such as truth, , simplicity and harmony through objects the most neutral and impersonal as possible. This kind of art also links, inevitably, with space, since its sculpture is, usually, conceived to emphazise the arhitecture of the space in which it’s exhibited., encouraging the viewer to become aware of the space he inhabitates.
The first time a minimal artwork was exhibited, time that became the starting point for a whole movement, was in the late 50’s when the MoMA showcased Frank Stella’s Black Paintings. In the two upcoming decades, the 60’s and 70’s, the style flourished, beign in 1965 the first time that the term minimal art was used. It was the idea of the philosopher Richard Wolheim, who used it to refer to those artworks in which the idea was on top of the craft, following the ideas of Duchamp’s readymades or the works of Ad Reinhardt, considered a Pioneer of minimal art, followed by artists such as Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Sol Lewitt or Agnes Maritn, among others. Internationally renowed galleries such as Green Gallery, Castelli Gallery or the Pace Gallery commited to support this new art movement which has become essential to the evolution of art history, meaning to be the direct predecesor of conceptual art.
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