Minimal brings together a selection of artists who, though they speak through different genres, mediums and time periods, are complimentary in their approaches to art-making. Minimalism is often considered an adherence to material over application, of form over function. It breathes with an austere yet democratic air, a certain aesthetic purity that withstands and outlasts the fleeting nature of fads and temporal obsessions.
Josef Albers taught, both in classrooms and through his paintings, how to investigate and navigate the nature of color to balance. Richard Artschwager often used mundane materials in sculpture to almost platonic representations of objects, and sometimes situations. Donald Judd, another sculptor, brought sculpture off the pedestal, using plain, industrial materials to bring focus to the structured ordering of space. Robert Mangold’s paintings are a careful combination of subtle color fields with slight geometrics and gestures. Brice Marden, also a painter, has continually evolved through different series, from monochromatic works, to divided forms to self-distanced mark-making. In his hybrid sculpture installations, Fred Sandback used simple thread to engage the very space of the rooms that contained it. For many years Sean Scully has used repeated motifs to force deep color study through self-imposed limitations.
What unites these varied voices here is the translation from their primary medium into the repeated image or object. The economy of means inherent in this process provides both interesting limits and opportunities for them all.
Art is simultaneously particular and general. This is a real dichotomy. The great thing about proportion, one aspect of art, is that it is both extremes at once. The level of quality of a work can usually be established by the extent of the polarity between its generality and particularity. Or, to state the idea a little too simply, the better the work, the more diverse its aspects.
-Donald Judd, 1987
Minimalism or minimalist art can be seen as extending the abstract idea that art should have its own reality and not be an imitation of some other thing. We usually think of art as representing an aspect of the real world (a landscape, a person, or even a tin of soup!); or reflecting an experience such as an emotion or feeling. With minimalism, no attempt is made to represent an outside reality, the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them. The medium, (or material) from which it is made, and the form of the work is the reality. Minimalist painter Frank Stella famously said about his paintings ‘What you see is what you see’.
Tate Museum, UK
Art is not to be looked at. Art is looking at us. What is art to others is not necessarily art to me. Nor for the same reason and vice versa. What was art to me or was not some time ago might have lost that value or gained it in the meantime and maybe again though art is not an object but experience. To be able to perceive it we need to be receptive. Therefore art is there where art meets us now. The content of art is visual formulation of our relation to life. The measure of art, the ratio of effort to effect, the aim of art revelation and evocation of vision.
-Josef Albers, 1968
There’s only a certain amount of control you can have over a situation. I’m interested in working in that area in which the mind can no longer hold on to things. The point at which all ideas fall apart.