After Modernism; Minimalism


‘Untitled’, Donald Judd, 1963

Another fascinating lecture today, this one far more relevant to my current thought process in my Field module though. The main movement followed today was that of Minimalism, which rose to prominence in the late 60’s and 70’s. A main exponent of this movement was Donald Judd, who was also the author of one of the companion texts for this seminar; ‘Specific Objects’, 1965. within this text, Judd criticises both Sculpture and Painting for being far too limited in their scope, and finds issues with the things that Clement Greenberg says are the greatest aspects of painting (ironically), stating that a painting ‘isn’t an image’. Although, I do agree with some of his points about the painting’s raw materials (paints, canvas, Frame) being purchased, and therefore being a result of a collaboration rather than a single person, as well as some of his points about Sculpture; the aspect of a sculpture being built bit by bit, losing some semblance and synergy, as well as the fact that most are artificially coloured afterwards; losing the raw beauty of the materials, I believe he’s rather pretentious and disagree with his outlook. A lot of the time, he criticises purely to criticise, and that DOES bother me a great deal, but I guess that’s how artists are.

Equivalent VIII 1966 by Carl Andre born 1935

‘Equivalent VIII’, Carl Andre, 1966

Another controversial piece, but one that I find astounding, is Carl Andre’s ‘Equivalent VIII’, an exploration into the volume of objects. The piece is so beautifully simple, 120 Bricks are set out to create a rectangular shape. Through this, Andre calls into question the very concept of space, and it’s limitations and fundamental physics, which pushes me to percieve the world in a far different way. This leads onto another concept that I discovered during the Seminar that resonated deep within me;


 1. an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
An incredibly relevant concept, as I am actually nursing an increasing interest with Minimalism and it’s aspects within the Art world. This theory that we as humans are constantly looking to find order within an object, and see connections between objects is what makes us such an inquisitive species. This aspect of a group of objects, or a lack of sensory stimulation can be perceived as another thing, most often a larger image and/or object. This has also pushed me away from my initial ideas over what sculpture actually entails, and is pushing me more towards the essence and ‘experience’ of a sculpture, as if it is there to to intentionally make the viewer feel a certain way, for them to experience a certain situation/concept. I also discovered a series of definitions that accurately, and concisely describe what a minimalist piece must explore to be classed within the movement;
1) Simplicity (Gestalt, as well as the idea of a piece only needing enough physicality to just be classed as an artwork)
2) Scale (In relation to the viewer, which is quite possibly the most important factor in the creation process)
3) Repetition (Often seen in the work of Carl Andre, Repetition allows the Gestalt theory to take a firm hold)
4) Gravity (the concept of gravity and weight, either in potential within the piece for gravity to take a hold, or Gravity being an actual part of the piece, either through defying it or celebrating it)
5) Systems (Minimalist artists were mad for systems, they absolutely adored them)
‘Die’ Tony Smith, 1962
A fascinating piece that I also learnt about today, which epitomises the minimalist structure when crafting a piece, taken from an interview with the artist;
Q. Why didn’t you make it larger so that it would loom over the observer?
A. I was not making a Monument.
Q. Why not make it smaller so the observer can see the top?
A. I was not making an Object.
Here, we see this philosophy of a minimalist structure being an entity that exits, it needs nothing else to exist within it’s own world, and that is the beauty of the minimalist artwork.

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