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Minimalism

Explore the simplified forms and rich ideas behind Minimalist art.


Serial Forms and Repetition

Explore the importance of seriality and repetition in Minimalist art.


The Materials of Minimalism

Explore how Minimalists embraced the techniques and materials of manufacturing and industry.


Constructing Space

Explore how Minimalist artists engaged with their physical surroundings.


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.

To explore more, click on each artwork thumbnail, then click again on the larger image that appears in the box above.

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).

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.

Questions & Activities

  1. 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.

  2. 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.