After World War II, manufacturers in the United States stopped producing things for the war effort and turned their focus to consumer goods. People were hungry to buy everything that was not available during the war, and companies created more mass production techniques to fill the orders.
Pop artists like Andy Warhol borrowed the materials, techniques, and imagery of mass production for their art. Warhol, for example, reproduced a newspaper photograph of a fatal car crash by silkscreening it onto a canvas with synthetic orange paint. Taking a cue from Pop artists, Minimalist artists used manufacturing materials and industrial fabrication in their work too, but left the images behind. Minimalists helped to challenge the idea that artists show us our world in a drawing, painting, or sculpture, each its own unique original. Instead, Minimalists adopted the techniques and materials of the factory, and showed us our new 1960s world of industrial, mass-produced beauty.
To explore more, click on each artwork thumbnail, then click again on the larger image that appears in the box above.
An image, especially a positive print, recorded by exposing a photosensitive surface to light, especially in a camera.
A global war, one of the most widespread in human history, fought between 1939 and 1945, and resulting in the wholesale reshaping of nations, populations, and worldwide balances of power.
A three-dimensional work of art made by a variety of means, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, molding clay or wax, or assembling materials.
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
The method with which an artist, writer, performer, athlete, or other producer employs technical skills or materials to achieve a finished product or endeavor.
A printing technique in which areas of a silkscreen, comprised of woven mesh stretched on a frame, are selectively blocked off with a non-permeable material (typically a photo-emulsion, paper, or plastic film) to form a stencil, which is a negative of the image to be printed. Ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface with a squeegee, creating a positive image.
A movement composed of initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s, which was characterized by references to imagery and products from popular culture, media, and advertising.
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.
The shape or structure of an object.
A person who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership.
Questions & Activities
Your Own Hesse
Eva Hesse’s Repetition Nineteen III is made of white-painted papier mâché over wire mesh. As part of her working process, Hesse made a series of preparatory drawings that helped her conceive of the final sculpted works.
After studying Hesse’s sculpture and drawings, brainstorm alternate versions of this sculpture. Draw your arrangement of units, what size they would be, and what materials you would use. Consider how changing each of these elements would change the work.
Comparing Hesse and LeWitt
Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt both used repetition in their works, but applied the concept in different ways. They also used different materials for their repeated forms.
Either alone or with a partner, think about and discuss the similarities and differences between each artist’s approach, giving consideration to the materials they used and how individual units relate to the work as a whole.
Imagine that each artist were to create a work of art out of paper and tape using their own approach to repetition. How would each work differ?
Using 24 sheets of paper and a roll of tape, emulate the process used by Eva Hesse or Sol LeWitt. What are the differences between the two artists’ processes?
Describing Yayoi Kusama
Take a close look at Yayoi Kusama’s Accumulation of Stamps, 63. Brainstorm and write a list of adjectives to describe the lines formed by the stickers. Which lines lead your eye around the collage? Where do you think Kusama might have begun applying the stickers? Pay particular attention to the edges.