The early 1960s brought about a significant shift in American art, largely in reaction to the critical and popular success of the highly personal and expressive painterly gestures of Abstract Expressionism. Minimalist artists produced pared-down three-dimensional objects that have no resemblance to any real objects. Their new vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of three dimensions, or spatial depth, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.
A primarily American artistic movement of the 1960s, characterized by simple geometric forms devoid of representational content. Relying on industrial technologies and rational processes, Minimalist artists challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, using commercial materials such as fiberglass and aluminum, and often employing mathematical systems to determine the composition of their works.
An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.
A category of artistic practice having a particular form, content, or technique.
Resembling or using the simple rectilinear or curvilinear lines used in geometry.
The shape or structure of an object.
The dominant artistic movement in the 1940s and 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was the first to place New York City at the forefront of international modern art. The associated artists developed greatly varying stylistic approaches, but shared a commitment to an abstract art that powerfully expresses personal convictions and profound human values. They championed bold, gestural abstraction in all mediums, particularly large painted canvases.
Minimalism as a term and concept arose several decades before the 1960s. In 1929, the Ukrainian author David Burlyuk wrote: “Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself.”