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 new 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 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A stencil-based printmaking technique in which the first step is to stretch and attach a woven fabric (originally made of silk, but now more commonly of synthetic material) tightly over a wooden frame to create a screen. Areas of the screen that are not part of the image are blocked out with a variety of stencil-based methods. A squeegee is then used to press ink through the unblocked areas of the screen, directly onto paper. Screenprints typically feature bold, hard-edged areas of flat, unmodulated color. Also known as silkscreen and serigraphy.
A movement comprising initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s. Pop artists borrowed imagery from popular culture—from sources including television, comic books, and print advertising—often to challenge conventional values propagated by the mass media, from notions of femininity and domesticity to consumerism and patriotism. Their often subversive and irreverent strategies of appropriation extended to their materials and methods of production, which were drawn from the commercial world.
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.
The shape or structure of an object.
Questions & Activities
Your Own Hesse
Eva Hesse’s Repetition Nineteen III is made of fiberglass and polyester resin. As part of her working process, Hesse made different versions including one with papier-mache over wire, as well as a series of preparatory drawings.
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.
Friendship and Creative Exchange: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt
Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt were good friends who exchanged letters, postcards and even artworks. They 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.