After Modernism, ‘Minimalism’ London Trip 06/03/14

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Our After-Modernism lecture for this week took part in a different location to our previous ones; in London itself! we first went to Tate Modern, as Jonathan Clarkson believed that seeing the pieces that we were studying in real life would be far more successful in getting his points across to us, and the experience of seeing a piece in real life is second to none.

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‘Untitled (to Don Judd, Colourist)’, Dan Flavin 1987

A very interesting piece, but one that I embarrassingly have dismissed in the past as a shallow attempt at Art, and questioned it for it’s authenticity as an artistic piece. As I have developed as an artist, I have to come to realise it’s place in the artistic world, and appreciate it a great deal more now through my understanding of it’s meaning. It’s highly entrancing, as a warm glow emanates from the piece, evoking an emotion of pleasure in the viewer, much like the warming glow of a fire. It becomes more interesting when one views the wall facing the piece, as the shifting shadows of the viewers and people walking past creates a cornucopia of light and shades of colour on the wall, crafting an even beautiful work when turning your back to the piece. Is this intentional? or merely a coincidence? either way, it works wonders for the piece.

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‘Monument V (for Tatlin)’

A far different emotion is experienced in this room, as we feel a great deal of calm wash over us as we enter the room, the dull glow of the fluorescent light creates a space in which meditation and reflection are the favoured methods, as the ‘monuments’ become just that, monuments to the greats, as well as the all enveloping force of light. It really is beautiful in it’s simplicity, and causes the viewer to stop and consider the everyday beauty that we miss with our own eyes, the delicate shapes and miracles that are missed as we do not seem to deem them as worthy of our attention.

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They seem to resemble figures, which gives them a symbolism of an angel. At least to myself, and this creates a radiance of purity that spreads out from their bodies.

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‘Untitled’, Donald Judd

As we entered another room, we witnessed a great deal of works by Donald Judd, who of course is a great contributor to the minimalistic movement of the late 60’s and 70’s, the most interesting of these pieces was a large copper box within the centre of the room. An illusionist piece, the crimson shade of the inside is crafted from the reflection of the floor of the ‘room’, as it is painted red. This creates a strange sense of warmth that once again radiates from such a mundane and lifeless object, as we humans struggle to make sense of the piece and relate it to our own experiences within the world; we feel warmth, this inanimate ‘object’ does not feel at all, it merely exists, and therein lies it’s beauty.

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‘Trip Hammer’, Richard Serra 1988

An interesting piece, it was not created during the Minimalism boom, but rather, at a much later date. The piece relies on the aspect of anxiety, and utilises the dangers and tensions of gravity to achieve this; the piece is simple, a massive, heavy steel plate rests on another, supported only by it’s minimal contact with the wall. It dominates the space that it stands in, and I myself was incredibly intimidated by it. Primal fear rooted me to the spot that I stood upon, and I felt my instincts claw at the back of my spine to move away from it, to get away from it in case I fell victim to it’s dense wrath. Minimalism is incredibly interesting, and I would like to explore it further.

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‘Spatial Concept: Waiting’, Lucio Fontana 1960

Clement Greenberg’s theories taken to the absolute extreme, we see here a canvas with a slash in the middle of the piece. That is it, but that seems to be all it needs to be. The slash is elegantly cut, and there is no sign of fraying, it draws the viewer within itself and to the background of the piece, which is painted black. It is reminiscent of a tear in the fabric of a dimension, and is quite science-fiction in this aspect. I am not fussed on it, it’s an interesting concept but appears to be a gimmick, and thus does not impress me as much as other minimalistic works.

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‘Washed Ashore’, Eleanor Roberts 2014

As myself and two companions wandered around London looking for independent galleries (and something to eat), we came across a small independent gallery that was called ‘Morley Gallery’, and the exhibition held within was labelled SASAM (Sound Art Students At Morley), a rather quaint acronym, and one that held promise, so I went in and had a look around. The first piece that caught my eye was ‘Washed Ashore’, a re-imagination of the life of an unidentified woman buried in a churchyard by the sea in Friston. A small cross with ‘Washed Ashore’ carved into it details this woman’s life, but nothing else, which is incredibly sad to ruminate upon. This re-imagination details her as a lone yachtswoman who brings along her record player for company, the record detailing the last moments of her life as her power supply fails, rotating slower and slower until her flame is snuffed out. It is a very haunting piece, and really opened my eyes to the capabilities of sound when evoking an emotion within the viewer.

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close-up of the record player.

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‘Untitled’, Boomoon 2010

The final piece that I saw was in the independant photography gallery ‘Flowers’, on Cork Street. A fascinating series of photographs, detailing the infinity of nature, devoid of human presence; the whiteness of the snow only further accentuates the beauty of this aspect of the photographs, and helps to affirm the nature of the photographs; Nature is beautiful, and is so very powerful, that it will continue long after we are gone.

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