One of the goals of Minimalist artists was to produce work that engaged the surrounding space. Of course art is always made to be looked at, but these artists sought to involve viewers in a more physical way, acknowledging that their perception shifts as they move through space. Sculpture of the past often employed this understanding—and just as often did not—with some sculptors intending their work to be viewed from one fixed point of view, as with a painting. Three-dimensional works by Minimalist artists used a wide range of materials to engage both the surrounding space and the viewer.
An artistic movement of the 1960s in which artists produced pared-down three-dimensional objects devoid of representational content. Their new vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of spatial depth in painting, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.
An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.
Questions & Activities
Mirrors and Light
Of his use of mirrors as a material, Robert Smithson said, “I’m using a mirror because the mirror in a sense is both the physical mirror and the reflection: the mirror as a concept and abstraction: then the mirror as a fact within the mirror of the concept.”
Reflect. How might this statement also apply to Dan Flavin’s use of fluorescent lights? Do mirrors and lights engage viewers and space in a similar way? Summarize your thoughts in 1-2 paragraphs.
Looking at Flavin
Close your eyes and imagine standing in front of Flavin’s pink out of a corner (to Jasper Johns), which is comprised of a pink fluorescent light bulb positioned in a corner. How might the colored light flood the surrounding architectural space? How might it color your body, and how might this change as you move around the space?
What are your associations with corners, and why might Flavin have placed this work in one? Write your thoughts in a one-page essay.